Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Doug Wilson, a wordsmith of some skill

In response to Christopher Hitchens' challenge to present evidence for Jesus' resurrection, Wilson responds w/ a brilliant paragraph:

Actually, I believe I can present evidence for what I know. But evidence comes to us like food, and that is why we say grace over it. And we are supposed to eat it, not push it around on the plate—and if we don't give thanks, it never tastes right. But here is some evidence for you, in no particular order. The engineering that went into ankles. The taste of beer. That Jesus rose from the dead on the third day, just like he said. A woman's neck. Bees fooling around in the flower bed. The ability of acorns to manufacture enormous oaks out of stuff they find in the air and dirt. Forgiveness of sin. Storms out of the North, the kind with lightning. Joyous laughter (diaphragm spasms to the atheistic materialist). The ocean at night with a full moon. Delta blues. The peacock that lives in my yard. Sunrise, in color. Baptizing babies. The pleasure of sneezing. Eye contact. Having your feet removed from the miry clay, and established forever on the rock. You may say none of this tastes right to you. But suppose you were to bow your head and say grace over all of it. Try it that way.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Orthodox lays his cards on the table

Orthodox has let much of his position be known, and it's shaky indeed.

ORTHODOX: questions the tradition of drinking green cordial and wonders if we ought really be drinking red cordial, we MUST abandon green cordial because we can't prove it is a "good" tradition?

RHOLOGY: Is drinking one or the other condemned in Scr? No.
Is judging people and dividing people b/c of traditions that are held in their proper place (ie, subservient to Scr) and which are not commented on by Scr, thus condemned? Yes, it's condemned - 1 Cor 8 and Rom 14 comment on those. Your example is bad.

ORTHODOX: That's one way. But it's not the only way.

RHOLOGY: I know that several ways.
Mark 7:1-13 tell me that Scr is the standard by which trads are to be judged.
Also, as I said above: you can't tell me a priori what Holy Tradition is. You can only tell me AFTER I cite you some writing of the ECFs or sthg. Then, if it agrees w/ your position, it is Holy Tradition. If it does not, it is not. Which is, of course, circular and unconvincing.
And, we're testing Tradition itself, so it is stupid to say "We test tradition by tradition to see if tradition is good."
But you can help me out - how shall I go about testing tradition by tradition?

ORTHODOX: I was talking about "the Tradition" which has a specific meaning in Orthodoxy.

RHOLOGY: Oh, OK. What is that specific meaning?
Can you provide a list of what "the Tradition" is? Since it is so specific, you must have a list compiled by The Church®, which is infallible since The Church® is infallible.

ORTHODOX: tell is what is clearer, the Orthodox Tradition, or scripture alone?

RHOLOGY: I already told you. Scr is clearer by far.

ORTHODOX: No, it is not Holy Tradition if it agrees with me, it is Holy Tradition if it agrees with the Church, aka the people of God whom the Spirit led into all truth.

RHOLOGY: But the Church is supposed to live by Holy Tradition and use it for its rule of faith. How can The Church® be submitted to Holy Tradition and at the same time define in and out of Tradition any opposing viewpoint expressed by an otherwise-reliable ECF?

ORTHODOX: And yes, if an ECF is at variance to the rule of faith, then they are in error.

RHOLOGY: B/c The Church® says so, yeah I know.

ORTHODOX: Just like if an ECF is wrong about the canon from your point of view are in error.

RHOLOGY: Unlike in your view, I have an easy explanation to acct for when ECFs are in error - I judge them by Scr. Indeed, they themselves would have told me to do so.

ORTHODOX: Whatever the church holds up IS the truth. The bible says so.

RHOLOGY: Yes, and the Church holds up the truth of God. The Scr. That's what my pastor does every week.

ORTHODOX: You argument is similar to me saying to you, how am I, a mere individual, supposed to know the canon of scripture when I can't infallibly discern it? I presume you hope for me to discern it, but that doesn't mean I infallibly will.

RHOLOGY: Strawman. My argument has never been that individuals are the ones who judge the Canon/have the Canon revealed to them. I refer to "the people of God" over and over, through a "passive, subtle" act of God. (I'm quoting myself between ""s.)

ORTHODOX: It's called humility Alan.

RHOLOGY: How does that answer my question?
Here's my question: But how would I know that (that is, that the Scr is only a subset of revelation) if I can't interp the Scr correctly, as a mere individual?

ORTHODOX: That you "can" doesn't mean that you actually will.

RHOLOGY: Thank you. That's exactly my answer when you ask me about "Protestant disunity". Just b/c individuals can interp the Scr correctly (b/c the Scr is sufficiently clear for that) doesn't mean that they will.

ORTHODOX: but I have at my disposal the collective wisdom of the Church which is led into all truth.

RHOLOGY: So do I, but unlike you I accept what earlier mbrs of the church have said and judge them by God's revelation rather than having to resort to one of two options:
1) shoehorn what they said into My Church's Paradigm, or
2) reject what they said as Authentic Holy Tradition b/c I don't like it

ORTHODOX: Which is why protestants can't agree on paedo baptism, but Orthodox Tradition has no ambiguity.

RHOLOGY: As I have said about 6 times so far, I refuse to compare apples to oranges.
Among Reformed Baptists, there is as much unity as in the modern EOC, so how are you any better off than I?

ORTHODOX: But if I want to say I can have knowledge about God's people led into the truth concerning the traditioin, suddenly you claim it is all too fuzzy.

RHOLOGY: Finally, a good question - I commend you.
1st, there is no Scriptural promise that God will lead His people to an infallible tradition.
2nd, there is no Scriptural promise that God will make His church infallible.
3rd, church history shows that the church has not been infallible.
4th, ECFs whom you often cite as sources of Holy Tradition say other things related to subjects that make you uncomfortable, such as that the Scr should be our sole final authority; when they do, you just reject them out of hand w/o even thinking about it.

ORTHODOX: It (that is, whether Copts (No) or non-Chalcedonians (No) or ROCOR (Yes) are in your church) is common knowledge.

RHOLOGY: OK, then the Canon is common knowledge. No matter what question you ask of me, I'm just going to respond "it is common knowledge, no more questions!"
Besides, you have a difficult road ahead of you if you want to convince me that it's "common knowledge".

ORTHODOX: I don't see anything about "denominations" in scripture.

RHOLOGY: True, just a WHOLE BUNCH of smaller house churches.
But the concept of infallible interpreter doesn't appear in Scr either, and that hasn't stopped you from believing it. I'm beginning to suspect you have a higher authority than the Scriptures. [/irony]

ORTHODOX: Why are you so afraid to compare who you consider in the Church to who I consider in the Church?

RHOLOGY: It's ludicrous to suggest that I'm afraid of what you have to offer, man.
And kudos - apparently you're not afraid either since you ARE interacting w/ it. It just took me a couple tries to get you around to it. But you're doing better than your bud Lucian.

ORTHODOX: the "White Question" is not in scripture.

RHOLOGY: Don't remember claiming it was. But it reveals the bankruptcy of one point of your position.

ORTHODOX: Neither is the canon.

RHOLOGY: Interestingly, even in your much wider body of teachings (ie, Tradition), you don't have a Canon either, whether of Scripture or of Tradition. So why even bring it up? Every time you do it's another bullet discharged into your own leg.

ORTHODOX: Now you are adding to scripture.

RHOLOGY: Ssssuuuurrrrre I am.

ORTHODOX: Thus: chaos... SS doesn't work.

RHOLOGY: Oops, you were showing promise, like you were actually going to interact w/ my position, and then you backed off right back into Orthodox clichés again. W/ a little effort you can make it back to real argumentation.

ORTHODOX: An unclear teaching in the infallible scripture plus a clear teaching in the fallible "other authority", leads to the "other authority" winning out.

RHOLOGY: Ah, so the Scr is unclear, is it?
See, I knew you would say that eventually. You have to either claim the Scr is unclear or demean its authority, b/c if you took it as your highest authority, you would have so much cognitive dissonance that it would be painful to remain a mbr of the EOC. As it is, your cognitive dissonance expresses itself in terrible and circular argumentation.

ORTHODOX: So no buddhists adhere to sola the buddhist scriptures? No Muslims adhere to sola the Koran?
...So if you're going to make the absurd link of lumping us with LDS, I'm going to lump you with Wahhabis Muslims. Deal?

RHOLOGY: I reject this comparison to Buddhists and Muslims, as if they were comparable to Sola Ecclesia-ists or Sola Scripturists who at least say that the Bible is an authority.
Buddhists don't even care about the Bible.
Muslims kind of do but the Had'ith and Qur'an are far higher. And those two are not "Scripture". They are more properly called "pagan writings". Cool?
My point is related to those who use the actual Scriptures as final authority (SS) or Scriptures + infall interper (SE).

ORTHODOX: do you list any ECFs as SSists?

RHOLOGY: There are many many who give a lot of support to the idea that the Scr are the highest authority.

ORTHODOX: Just when did the true church perish from the earth?

RHOLOGY: It never did.

ORTHODOX: Who in these first centuries enumerated your canon?

RHOLOGY: Haha, who enumerated YOURS? You amaze me.

ORTHODOX: why shouldn't I compare Greek Orthodox with Russian Orthodox?

RHOLOGY: Whoa whoa whoa, are Greek Orthodox and Russian Orthodox denominations? I thought you Totally United Eastern Orthodox® didn't have any of those!

ORTHODOX: Or if you want to compare RCC with EOC, why shouldn't I compare reformed baptists with anglicans, or pentacostals, or even oneness pentacostals?

RHOLOGY: Anglicans aren't SS.
Oneness Pentecostals aren't either and they aren't Trinitarian. They hold to Scr+infall interper (ie, private revelation) model. Thus, yup, you guessed it, they are SE-ists.
But compare Reformed Baptists to some SS Pentecostals is 100% fair.
See how easy that was? I'm very agreeable as long as you make sense.

ORTHODOX: I said that we can get rid of the bad by testing against scripture. I never said to compare tradition to tradition.

RHOLOGY: Excuse me, but in this same post you said this:
ORTHODOX: That's one way (to test tradition). But it's not the only way. If you disagree show me the verse saying it is the only way.
RHOLOGY: I guess I need you to explain the other way to test tradition.

ORTHODOX: When scripture refers to a righteous man it isn't always referring to anybody and everybody who simply has faith. See what happens with you and your bible under a tree?

RHOLOGY: Strawman - show me where I ever expressed the idea of "me and my Bible under a tree". You're very discourteous for doing that.
And the very category of "righteous" in the Scr means someone who has saving faith. Feel free to join in on the discussion on that if you want.

ORTHODOX: Did you really NEED your NASB to tell you that it is right to look after your parents as per the passage in question?

RHOLOGY: Not the NASB but God's revelation, yes.
What are you, a member of the Rational Response Squad? You think you have some morality outside of what God has declared? How?
You have a worldview that is far from biblical, though I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

ORTHODOX: There is no scriptural revelation specifically about abortion.

RHOLOGY: Your ignorance shouldn't surprise me, but it does.

ORTHODOX: The only clarity and workability that is of practical interest, is what we find in real life.

RHOLOGY: B/c you don't have a Christ mind.
Your big (and unsupportable) assumption is that, just b/c sinful people misinterp and misuse the Scripture, that means it's the Scr's fault for being unclear.
This is why I always say that EOC and RCC go a long way towards demeaning the authority of Scr and bear a large resemblance to liberal Protestant epistemology. Even if I cite Scr to you, you won't care. Why should I even waste my time talking to you? What common authority could we possibly share?

ORTHODOX: 2 Peter says some things are hard to understand.

RHOLOGY: Yes, which the "untaught and unstable distort, as they do the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction."
I don't suppose that could mean that the taught and stable can understand them!
Besides, the points where you and I disagree (ie, authority, justification, prayer to dead people) are not unclear at all. But I'll grant you that I don't fully get Paul's eschatology.

ORTHODOX: It's really hard to follow that if you never received the oral traditions.

RHOLOGY: The ones that I'm commanded to receive have been enscripturated and I receive them w/ gladness. You w/ your ungodly authority structure and demeaning attitude towards God's Word don't. Your destiny scares me.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The "White Question"

A question has been raised regarding the "White Question", which reads more or less as follows:

How did the pious Jewish man living in 50 BC know that Isaiah or 2 Chronicles were inspired Scripture, ie, were in the Canon of Scripture?

RCs and EOs criticise the Sola Scriptura (SS) position by questioning, as Orthodox just did, how SS-ers can have a Canon of Scr.
But SS-ers respond by pointing out the canonisation process of the OT. W/o an infallible authority that RCC and EOC posit, God brought His people to understand the Canon of the OT. Given the many epistemological problems inherent in the Sola Ecclesia/Infallible Interpreter model, it makes a ton more sense to see God handling the canonisation process of the NT in a similar way to the way He did the OT Canon - passively, subtlely leading the people of God to recognise it.

SE-ers will then splutter, "But, but, by what authority do you have the NT Canon?" as if the question were not just answered. We respond w/ the White Question - how did a pious Jewish man in 50 BC know that Isaiah or 2 Chronicles was inspired, ie, was in the Canon of Scripture?
Clearly, he knew it b/c God had mysteriously and passively led His people to recognise it. They had no infallible interper.
If you say they DID have one, then it ends up being the same "infall interper" who also taught the Corban Rule; they were not infall at all.
The White Question reveals that you don't have a good objection to the SS conception of how the NT Canon came about.

And RCC keeps saying that you need an infall interper to have an infall list of infall teachings. But Rome itself has no infall list of infall teachings. Besides the fact that Rome's 1st infall Canon of Scr is not until the 16th cent, they STILL have no infall list of all their infall teachings.
EOC is right behind - Orthodox is on record as completely unable to even give a Canon of Scr, much less a full Canon of his church's infall teachings.

So, SS-ers in the know are right to just laugh when presented w/ these lame arguments based on the unknowability of the Canon.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Svendsen-Pacwa debate: A Review

Before I begin, please note that I am biased and believe that Sola Scriptura is the correct position to hold. That said...

On 18 May 2007, about 150 people gathered in an Oklahoma City University classroom for a debate between Dr. Eric Svendsen and Fr. Mitchell Pacwa on the subject of Sola Scriptura vs Sola Ecclesia.
I sat w/ my wife near the middle and the moderator explained the format - 20 min opening, 10 min rebuttal, 10 min break, 15 min cross-ex, 15 min closing, 30 min of audience questions (for which you must write down your question and turn it in at the intermission), turn off your cell phones, no applause until after each debater's closing statement.

Fr. Pacwa Opening - 20 min
There are 2 forms of revelation - Scripture and Apostolic Tradition (hereafter, Scr and ApTrad, respectively). The only authoritative tradition is apostolic in origin. Scr is inerrant (2 Tim 3:16-17 tells us it is breathed out by God), and tradition also contains God's revelation, but, curiously, he made a distinction between Trad's inspiration (not?) and Scr's.
Rome's authority is a 3-legged stool of Scr, Trad, and the living voice of the RCC. Using a sports analogy, the Magisterium serves as the "referee" for biblical and traditional interpretation.

Dr. Svendsen Opening - 20 min
Galatians 1:8-9 enjoins upon us the severity of this issue. At stake is the Gospel b/c each debater's respective Gospel is founded upon 2 different authority structures.
2 Tim 3:16-17 tells us what the Scr is good for - teaching, training in righteousness, etc.
Sola Scriptura is not several things: not our sole authority, not the only source of truth for religion or the world, the teaching that oral trad is entirely invalid, particularly during times of inscripturation, the teaching that there are no other subordinate authorities like creeds/confessions, a refusal to appeal to historical data, all psgs of Scr are equally clear, or that all interps of Scr are equally valid.
When we press RCs, however, we do find that Sola Ecclesia is indeed their authority b/c the task of interping Scr and Church history is solely the bailiwick of the Magisterium and no other.
Statement from the RC document declaring the Immaculate Conception - "these teachings have never been added to, never changed," etc.
We can see how SE is indeed the RCC's modus operandi in the way they deal w/ historical data and Scr - when they declare sthg like the Marian dogmas, they do so strictly on the basis of their own authority since no Scriptural or historical data from the 1st at least 400 yrs of the church would support their statements.

Pacwa Rebuttal - 10 min
No, indeed we have a 3-pronged source of authority.
He then took up virtually his entire rebuttal discussing the problem of the Canon of Scr for Protestants.
Which Canon should we hold to? Muratorian fragment's, Irenaeus', Tertullian's, Origen's, etc? They are all different for the NT until the mid 4th century.
Mentions the LXX - the apostles mostly quoted from the LXX in writing the NT. We hold to Scr teaching, as 1 Peter 3 teaches that "baptism now saves you" (omitting the 2nd half of that sentence); we don't add "alone" and "only" into the words of Scr like Luther did.
Interestingly, during his rebuttal, the RCs in the mostly-RC audience started to crank up a bit; several ladies behind my seat would ooh and aah approvingly or quietly say "thank you Jesus, thank you Lord" when Fr. Pacwa would mention the Eucharist or the Blessed Virgin Mary. It sounded charismatic and was a bit strange.

Svendsen Rebuttal - 10 min
Rome is not the only infallible interper in the world trying to get you to submit yourself to its infallibility. EO-xy, LDS, and JWs along w/ most other cults also claim the same. Rome's position means that the individual is not a competent interper of the Scr or of church history
But this means that the indiv is also incapable of looking at the Scr or Ch history and correctly judging, "Hmm, that looks like Rome". We need an infallible interper to tell us which infall interper to follow.
Also, Rome can't give us an infallible list of her infallible teachings either, so they have the same problem.
Which is it - did the Ch preserve the Canon for 3 centuries until it was all correctly put together in the mid-4th century, or was it that the Canonisation process was in complete chaos and disarray? You can't have it both ways.
The "White question" - how did a pious Jew living in the 1st century BC/AD know what the Canon of Scripture was?
For the NT canon, we go by the precedent set by the OT canon - God passively moved His people collectively and gradually to form the Canon, and the Canon was set the moment the last book of the Bible was completed by its author, since the Canon exists in the mind of God 1st and foremost.

Pacwa cross-x Svendsen - 15 min
Pacwa asks about the Canon of the Jews; how are we sure it is what you think it is?
Almost the entire P-X-S section dealt w/ Canon issues and the Apocrypha specifically. I was disappointed by that since I believe it to be a side issue. Related, but side.
Svendsen - it doesn't matter what the Jews thought after Pentecost; they were custodians of the oracles of God before only.
The LXX was often mentioned and its varying contents and implications.
Jerome was mentioned as were Cajetan and Erasmus - what was their Canon? Dr S says that the fact that theirs were different is a clear demonstration of the lack of clarity that Rome gave to the question of Canon in actual practice.

Svendsen cross-x Pacwa - 15 min
As regards Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus, which is the Apostolic tradition - that none are saved outside the RCC or the position of Vatican 2, that Prots and EOs are separated brethren and Muslims, Jews, and good atheists are sharers in salvation?
Pacwa answers: invincible ignorance, dvlpmnt of doctrine.
Vat 2 is a Magisterial document - how did it clarify this issue?
Magisterium is a "referee".
Discussion of Raymond Brown and other liberals on Magisterial committees, etc.
Discussion of Irenaeus' belief that Christ was at least 50 yrs old when He died and Augustine's and Basil's belief that facing the east during worship was absolutely crucial to the Gospel.
But this was not legislated by the whole Church.

Pacwa Closing - 15 min
We need the infall interper to prevent splits like between Zwingli and Luther.
I don' t know of any martyrs for facing the east but I know quite a few martyrs for the Scr and the Eucharist (and the RCs in the audience sigh "Oh yes, yes.")
Enchridion Symbolorum is the list of infallible teachings of the RCC.
Also suggests Ott's Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma or the Catechism.
Magisterium is the wall to keep us from falling off the cliff but also to protect us from fear of falling off the cliff.
Matthew 16:18 says Peter is the rock.
Mentions abortion, that it is not in the Scripture but in tradition.
Prohibition of birth control is not in the Scr but it is in trad and BC leads to abortion.

Svendsen Closing - 15 min
The nature of ch history.
We can prove the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, etc, from Scr.
Most distinctive RC dogma is not found in early ch history.
Vat2 teaching vs. Extra Ecclesiam teaching are different - it has changed.
Skepticism over the issue of the Canon will undermine the authority of Scr. Why do that for the sake of traditions?
Equates to "has God really said?"

Audience Questions - 30 min
Thank God they took written questions over the intermission rather than having open mics.
They switched off, each answering one question. I'd've liked to see 30 sec of rebuttal for each question, but oh well.
Not until the 12 minute mark did a question relevant to the debate topic come up. [Sigh]
One notable question: What is the Vatican's position on selling indulgences?
Fr Pacwa acted all confused, like he'd never heard that question before. Answer - "Um, we don't sell indulgences anymore." --Applause--
Note - Fr Peter Stravinskas disagrees. But that must be b/c I'm not RC and am but a fallible interpreter of these things.

Horrified gasp from audience mbrs when Dr Svendsen insists on labeling the RC position as Sola Ecclesia.

The last question for Fr. Pacwa was mine, and it was this: Given the Magisterial authority of Rome, what is the infallible list of infallible teachings of the Roman Catholic church?
Fr. Pacwa did a dance and answered simply the Enchiridion Symbolorum.

Dr. Svendsen clarifies that holding Sola Scriptura is not necessary for salvation. Are Catholics saved? There are Catholic Christians, yes.

I went to talk to Fr. Pacwa, who had quite a few people wanting to meet and greet him.
I identified myself as the asker of the last question and asked him how to spell "Enchiridion". He told me and then I asked him if that is an infallible document. He answered in a roundabout non-responsive sort of way. I then asked him again "But it is it infallible? I ask b/c we see the Canon of Scr as our list of infall teachings; what is your list?" That was my mistake - he latched onto my comparison to Scr and said "Oh but other RC teachings are not inspired, they're just infallible."
I asked, "But what's the functional difference between those 2?"
He said, "Scr stirs the heart; reading other teachings is like reading law or the Constitution."
Since there were other RCs waiting to talk to him, I didn't press the point any further. What a pitiful reply, but I don't guess it surprised me.
Had I the chance over again, I might have been a bit more pugnacious and asked "But we're not talking about what stirs the heart; I agree 100% that Scr stirs the heart better than canon law, believe me! I'm asking about authority - if a command to act/believe a certain way/thing is infallible, the question of whether it's 'inspired' is beside the point. So is it infallible or is it not, this Ench Sym?"

If he had said no, then thank you very much. Now please stop trying to act like that's a good point in your debates and in your talking about Prot-ism.

If he had said yes, then I ask him where the Ench Sym was declared to be infallible. I ask him by whom. I ask him when it was so declared. I also ask him how he knows that list is infallibly defined. Finally, I ask him if the Ench Sym is one of the infallible teachings listed in the infallible Canon of Rome (ie, the Ench Sym). He can't tell me any of that, so then thank you very much. Now please stop trying to act like that's a good point in your debates and in your talking about Prot-ism.

Finally, here are some of my own thoughts about the debate:

+Dr. S brought up a great point:
Which is it - did the Ch preserve the Canon for 3 centuries until it was all correctly put together in the mid-4th century, or was it that the Canonisation process was in complete chaos and disarray? You can't have it both ways.

+Another good point from Dr. S:
Rome's position means that the individual is not a competent interper of the Scr or of church history. But this means that the indiv is also incapable of looking at the Scr or Ch history and correctly judging, "Hmm, that looks like Rome". We need an infallible interper to tell us which infall interper to follow.

+Cajetan and Erasmus - what was their Canon? Dr S says that the fact that theirs were different is a clear demonstration of the lack of clarity that Rome gave to the question of Canon in actual practice. Pacwa's weak response - I'd like to see their statements in context. I doubt this is the 1st time you've heard this, and if you have, that's an area of study you must be prepared in.

+I later got an email from Phil Porvaznik, Roman Catholic e-pologist (who is to be thanked for cleaning up and editing the audio file of the debate for me), who said basically - "Re: the infallible list of infall teachings of the RCC, good point. The Ench Sym (aka "Denzinger") is not infallible, nor is Ott's book. I'll have to think about how to answer that."
Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

Some things that could have gone better:
-Dr. S:
"Rome's position means that the individual is not a competent interper of the Scr or of church history"
This should be added: "...which is also an indictment of the clarity of Scripture itself; it's not clear enough for you to understand it."

-Why didn't Dr S bring up the fact that the 1st official infallible Roman Canon of Scr is the Co of Trent?

-From Dr. S' answer to his final audience question:
"Is it a good idea to adopt traditions outside Scripture? I do not believe so." This language needs to be more precise.

In several ways this debate confirms the contention that Dr. James White often makes - RC apologists remain years behind the current Evangelical answers. Fr. Pacwa's use of his entire rebuttal to deal w/ the Canon while having such a glaring weakness on his own flank on the very same question demonstrates that. Fr. Pacwa avoided the "White question" - how did the Jewish man of 50 BC know the Canon? Fr. Pacwa leaned heavily on "trust me"-style points; did he expect to convince me w/ these arguments, citing the Councils of Carthage and Hippo for the source of the NT and OT Canons when he should know well that the 1st official Roman Catholic Canon of Scr was not before the Council of Trent (16th cent)? Add on that the way that he digressed into pro-life issues in his closing statement; it is pretty obvious to me that he was playing to his crowd.
Fr. Pacwa's describing the Magisterium as "the wall, inside of which we have freedom" is not reassuring, especially when questions like Extra Eccelesiam and the liberalism of JP2 and Vatican2 are brought up.

Fr. Pacwa and other RC apologists would do well to do some updating of their arguments. Well done, Dr. Svendsen. You weren't as sharp as you could've been but you did more than well enough to win this debate by a comfortable margin.

Edit: Dr. Svendsen has posted this debate's video here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Pictures sent by strange Roman Catholics

These are a few of the pictures that were included in the previous document. Just for fun:

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A love letter from a devoted son of Rome

I just received an email from the author of this comment, and I emailed him yesterday to ask him if he's Roman Catholic. He said he is and I asked him why. He asked me to explain why I asked him that. I responded thusly:
Well, it's simple, really - the Gospel of Roman Catholicism is not a valid one; therefore, I am wondering about your beliefs to some degree and your motivations for holding to said false Gospel.

He responded thusly:

Ba’al aka Rhology


Well, it's simple, really - the Gospel of Roman Catholicism is not a valid one; therefore, I am wondering about your beliefs to some degree and your motivations for holding to said false Gospel.


Moloch the God Ba'al, the Sacred Bull, was widely worshipped in the ancient Near East and wherever Carthaginian culture extended. Baal Moloch was conceived under the form of a calf or an ox or depicted as a man with the head of a bull.
Hadad, Baal or simply the King identified the god within his cult. The name Moloch is not the name he was known by among his worshippers, but a Hebrew translation. The written form Moloch (in the Septuagint Greek translation of the Old Testament), or Molech (Hebrew), is no different than the word Melech or king, transformed by interposing the vowels of bosheth or 'shameful thing'.
Greetings! Rhology,
I felt some pain when I read your comments [Email] - I imagine you were “raging” over your fear, pain & shame. I imagine that you are a "control freak", “rageaholic” & avoider [You have a conscious fear of intimacy & an unconscious fear of abandonment]. I imagine that you are a terrified
"little boy!!”. The only way you will recover is to go back to the “chamber of horrors” [your childhood] & recover “Little Rhology” – you abandoned him a long time ago [SHIFT SHAPING REPTILE]. Now you know what you really look like, Rhology!!

Ask Jesus to forgive you, for your sins, Rho!. He died for your sins, Rhology!!!!

Peace Be With You

Micky(Follower of JESUS CHRIST)

MORON: A Stupid Person
STUPID: Dazed & unable to think clearly.
Are you a
How do you FEEL!!!?
Are you A ZOMBIE,

Are you in Hell, “Silly Little Rhology?”

I LOVE “YOU,” Rhology!!

I don't really know what else to say after that. Thanks, Micky!

(Edit: The pictures stopped showing up, so I removed them.)

Friday, May 11, 2007

Public Service Announcement

We interrupt these very important heresy-hunts for this public service announcement. Please remain calm.

In honor of our time in Japan, I wish all of you a good weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Incarnational" means "we are clueless"

Having hijacked the post (w/ my permission; it's OK), Lucian has been avoiding my questions related to praying to the dead. It never hurts to deal w/ those questions again.

In "response" to this question from me:

Scenario: an Israelite has been calling up a dead believing ancestor and has been caught and brought before Moses for judgment.
His defense: "our God is a God of the living, not one of the dead"

Is it your position that he would be exonerated? Should he be?
Lucian cited an article referring to Jewish practice in the Middle Ages. Thanks but no thanks - I was asking about the time during or close to the Wanderings in the Desert and the giving of the OT Mosaic Law.

I responded by critiquing the article anyway ('cause I'm a courteous sort), and then moved on to dealing w/ the question he posed to me, whose follow-ups are fascinating and very illustrative. Keep in mind that Lucian has claimed to be a Romanian Orthodox, and Eastern Orthodoxy prides itself on being highly "Incarnational". Well, maybe, but it apparently didn't take w/ Lucian.
His question:
An Israelite has been caught and has been brought before the ones sitting in the chair of Moses. He's OWN words accuse him bitterly for calling himself to be one with God, Who is only One, and besides Whom there are no other Gods. (Deuteronomy 5:7; 6:4; 11:16; 11:28; 28:14; 29:26-28; 30:17-18).

Is it your position that he would be exonerated? Should he be?
My answer (after an initial misfire due to my own misapprehension of his question):
It depends. Is this guy Jesus Christ? If so, He should be exonerated (but that is impossible since God predestined to put him to death).

If this guy is anyone else, he should and would be executed.
The substantive parts of his response:
the Jews who don't believe in Jesus ... because, not only do they have no reason to, but also because it goes against some 5500 yrs of God-to-man relationship ... I mean God stroke their ancestors dead whenever they even as much as counted their own people, even much more so when they winked at, or even worse, bowed down to other Gods... -- and to this problem You very serenely answered with a smile -- like that was gonna cut it...
Yeah... right... it depends on what? I failed to see any of these 'dependencies' in the Shema, or in the 1st Commandment].
Why (should he be exonerated if he were Jesus Christ)??
My replies:
You are ignorant of the Scriptures to a very high degree. (So much for EO-xy being "highly Incarnational".)
As the Epistle to the Hebrews makes plain, the Incarnation is not AGAINST that established relationship; it is the FULFILLMENT thereof, w/o which the OT Laws are empty and pointless.

(It depends) On whether that guy is God incarnate or not, as I explained.

(Re: the Shema and 1st Cmdmt) As if the Incarnation of Jesus Christ is contrary to the Shema or 1st Commandment.
I am 100% serious - you should be ashamed of your ignorance of the Scriptures. This is just basic stuff. Why should I take you seriously?
(Re: why would Jesus Christ be exonerated?) B/c then He would actually be God.
The claim is that Eastern Orthodoxy is supposed to be a serious contender for The Church of The Apostles of Jesus Christ.
I'm done.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Pope grows a spine

I'm sure he's really interested in props from me, but props from me on this one.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Men of whom the world was not worthy

May your terrible ordeals glorify your Lord and Savior.

Sawing off the limb he's sitting on

Bryan says:

-What GOOD does it do us, really, if an original-yet-lost-to-time manuscript was innerant (sic) down to the last details if God didn't see fit to preserve it in such a state through all generations?

I should've said "autograph" (ie, the original manuscript written by the hand of the biblical author or his amanuensis) instead of "MSS" before, so just wanted to clear that up.
As I said before, the Scriptures are God-breathed. So if the autographa weren't inerrant and error-free, then God screwed up. This is what I mean when I say that the Eastern Orthodox (EO) and Roman Catholic (RC) positions on this question are nearly always saw-off-their-own-limb.

-God, according to this criterion, made innerant (sic) Scriptures, then let them suffer corruption which, in your view, detracts from their innerance (sic).

I'm not sure of the antecedent to "their inerrance". If you mean the MSS that we have in our possession now, then obviously, yeah. If you mean the autographa, I don't see how that logically follows.

-You assume that it is ONLY the MSS that is God-breathed.

I don't see how taking what 2 Timothy 3:16 says and believing it is an assumption. You yourself are telling me the copied MSS have these problems, so you don't believe that the copied MSS are inerrant. You are in fact questioning whether the autographa are inerrant; on this one you're going back on your own position, which I find strange.

-Never mind the fact that the NT authors themselves almost ALWAYS preferred to quote the Greek Septuagint text instead of the Hebrew Masoretic.

Are you saying the LXX doesn't contain these copyist errors?

-The writer of Hebrews bases a MAJOR Christological argument on a verse from the LXX that, if read from the Hebrew, makes no sense.

This is tangential, but I'm genuinely curious to know which one.

-Someone should have told him, it seems, to stay away from "inferior" texts when writing Holy Writ.

Or one might reasonably conclude that when a God-inspired writer cites sthg, that psg at least has the seal of approval from God.

-from the late first century/early second century onward, "doubting the biblical MSS" was considered something that made you more faithful to apostolic Christian teaching rather than the Synagogue of Satan--the unbelieving Jews

In private correspondence, I've given you citation after citation of Early Ch Fathers who showed nothing but the highest respect for the authority of Scripture and who indeed considered it their foundational authority. You didn't buy them then; I don't expect you to now. But just to say.
Besides, I don't see how it matters to this question whether many in the early church overreacted to the Jews' general rejection of their Messiah by throwing the baby out w/ the bathwater.

-My admission of being corrected was in reference to HOW the errors were accomplished; someone took me to task for not understanding HOW the errors crept in. THAT the errors existed within the texts AS WE HAVE THEM was never in question, nor did I admit any error regarding whether or not the errors existed.

When did I ever deny that there exist errors in the extant MSS?

The article that was pasted into the comment correcting you also included this:

-Christians readily admit, however, that there have been 'scribal errors' in the copies of the Old and New Testament. It is beyond the capability of anyone to avoid any and every slip of the pen in copying page after page from any book, sacred or secular. Yet we may be sure that the original manuscript (better known as autograph) of each book of the Bible, being directly inspired by God, was free from all error. Those originals, however, because of the early date of their inception no longer exist.

Include me among the "Christians (who) readily admit..." that errors exist in the extant MSS. I don't see what you are trying to say here.

It might be profitable to the discussion if Bryan could elucidate why he thinks that it doesn't matter whether the autographa are inerrant.
What method SHOULD God have used to preserve His written Scriptures throughout history, as opposed to the one He used, to ensure that a correct and trustworthy copy of the Scriptures got into our hands years later, even 2000 years later?