Saturday, May 22, 2004

Eric Svendsen Jumps Onto the "Hatred" Bandwagon 

James White's crony Eric Svendsen (another leading anti-Catholic apologist and author) suffers from the same tendency to quickly throw out the accusation of "hatred" in a piece on his website:

What I am simply amazed at is not only the unsolicited rank hatred and vitriolic attack I received from a gang of thugs, but that those same thugs have absolutely no consideration of people--made in the image of God, remember?"

(emphasis added)

This was in response to correspondence from Art Sippo, a Catholic Internet apologist, and friends of his who wrote to Eric. Now (apart from the theological issues), I don't agree with a great deal of Art's rhetoric and mode of expression, by any means, and have said so more than once.

Yet --having said that -- note how Eric responds. I dare say he is being quite hypocritical to point out such excesses from Art and then launching into a breathtakingly petty and ridiculous tirade such as the following (on the same URL above), where he actually makes an issue and "argument" out of someone's physical appearance!!!:

I've included here a photo of Artie Sippo to help the reader get a sense of the situation. Artie's physical appearance would be completely irrelevant were it not for his "brave" comments above. Why a man would call someone else a "sissy boy," a "coward and poltroon," and "yellow" over the Internet (yes, believe it or not, Artie made use of all these words freely in his first barrage of emails) begins to make profound sense once we take into consideration his physical appearance. While it pains me to point this out, it's entirely necessary in understanding Artie. Artie is a portly little fellow who somewhat resembles Radar O'Reilly on the hit TV series M.A.S.H. I have seen this phenomenon quite a bit on the Internet. Those who are the most bombastic, the most threatening, those who engage in the most swaggering and in the most bravado, and those who claim to be the "bravest" on the Internet, usually turn out to look a lot like Artie. My personal theory is that it’s an alter-ego issue. Men who share Artie's physical traits were usually the victims of bullies in childhood. Now that Artie is grown up, he must redeem himself for having allowed bullies to push him around in school the way they did. He feels guilty and angry for not sticking up for himself then; and he has resolved that he will not allow it anymore. To compensate for being bullied, he has now become the bully. The Internet provides Artie with a faceless forum in which to swagger and threaten with impunity; in which to live his dream of being a real "macho-man," completely without fear of the physical retribution he so dreaded as a child. In short, it gives him a chance to "get even" with his perceived superiors. What is so embarrassingly obvious is that someone who looks like Artie would never dare use words like "sissy boy," "coward," and "yellow" to another man’s face in a private room with no one else around—that would be far too harrowing an experience for him. But he is quite willing to do it from cyberspace where no harm can be done to him for spouting such nonsense. Artie Sippo is a very sick, very disturbed individual who is obviously still working through a good deal of baggage that he brought in from childhood. He is to be pitied, and I feel sorry for him.

. . . Artie is portly little fellow, who bears an uncanny resemblance to . . . a well-known stuttering cartoon character (see his photo above).

Yes, folks, this actually came from a person who has a doctorate -- not in psychology, but in theology --(directed towards a medical doctor), and was published on his own website. Truth is stranger than fiction once again.
See the similar article: "The Bizarre Paranoia of James White: 'Hatred' in the Guise of Theological Disagreement."

Friday, May 21, 2004

The Bizarre Paranoia of James White: "Hatred" in the Guise of Theological Disagreement 

James has done it again! The man seems to have this notion in his head that many folks who disagree with him must "hate" him. It's an amazing thing to behold in a professional debater and apologist (both endeavors being devoted to dealing with others who disagree). I have noted his paranoid (almost "conspiratorial") utterances in the past; for example, in a paper which is still present on his website:

I don't want to become like my opposition, whether they be hatefilled Fundamentalist KJV Only advocates, or hatefilled Roman Catholic apologists. In either case, I pray God will allow me to not become like them.

("Mirror Mirror: The Decline of Catholic Answers"; emphasis added)

I was also indirectly accused of hating the gospel, in my lengthy 1995 postal debate with Bishop White:

Those who have never realized their own helplessness often hate the gospel, I've discovered.

That came as quite a bit of news to me, since I had been proclaiming the gospel all over the place as a street and campus evangelist, for the previous 14 years.

Or what about his strange letter of 12-2-96, after a simple misunderstanding on a discussion board, and the obligatory charge that I was being deceitful and dishonest and that I "dissembled":

Dave, I don't trust you as far as I could throw you, to be perfectly honest with you. You are no different than the Crusaders of old, you just don't get to use a sword to hack me to pieces (and get a plenary indulgence in the process!).

The latest paranoid outburst from Bishop White is directed against Reformed scholar Paul Owen (see the recent post here: "Reformed Catholicism"). Having read Dr. Owen's comments after discovering them here, White launched into one of his typically ridiculous tirades against theological opponents (filled with irrelevancies, sophistry, and non sequiturs): "Alexander the Coppersmith and Smelly Baptists." Among the tidbits in this piece is the following:

I suppose we should give him some leeway: when you hate someone as much as this man hates me, you lose all perspective and end up saying things that really do not reflect well on you.

In the recent pathetic controversy overt a counter-caricature of White that was posted here for all of three hours before I retracted it and apologized, White brought out the "hate card" again in his alarmist replies on his blog by applying adjectives to our caricature such as "Charle-Mansonesque" and making allusions to the Columbine high school massacres.

Reviewing and pondering all this odd paranoia made me curious about other such statements on White's website. Through the wizardry of search engines it is easy to trace such statements. Here is what I found:

One of White's associates in his ministry noted in the article, "Some of Rome's Apologists Reveal Their True Feelings" (3-1-02):

After the posting of an article written in response to the conversion of James White's sister to Roman Catholicism, a flood of e-mails came into the ministry. Many were very thankful for the information, and greatly encouraged by the stand for truth the article represented. They were encouraged to redouble their faithfulness in praying for, and witnessing to, their Roman Catholic friends and relatives.

But most other e-mails were simply hate-filled. And while we have grown accustomed to the fairly regular drum-beat of "nastigrams" from various religious groups, the posting of this particular article brought out a whole new level of hatred.

In the article noted above we reproduced an e-mail from Stephen Ray, Roman Catholic apologist and author of such books as Crossing the Tiber and Upon This Rock. The reader is invited to read his comments and ponder the attitudes displayed therein. Most importantly, contrast this unsolicited blast with the attitudes portrayed by Mr. Ray in his writings.

Now, I agree that Steve Ray made several remarks about White (in the letter that the latter cited, above) that went over the top. But James does little better in responding to them, by bringing out the hate card once again (responding to Steve Ray in the article he mentions above):

. . . those who actually engage in hatred and anger (such as you yourself did in this e-mail) are the first ones to project their own attitudes upon others.

The same article by White's associate also accused Mark Shea of hatred (it seems that all us Catholic apologists are haters and filled with spite and malice -- note also the astonishing sweeping reference to all Catholic apologists):

Mr. Mark Shea, author of By What Authority? weighed in on Gregory Krehbiel's discussion board. Few of the "nastigrams" from Roman Catholic apologists speak more to the intense hatred and emotionalism of these men than this one does.

White seems quite sure that KJV Only Advocates "hate" him as well:

. . . it is highly doubtful that his work was exposed to the refutations of those who hate him with unrelenting hatred. Anyone who has read the web pages written about me by KJV Only advocates knows what I mean when I say that my work has been reviewed by those tremendously hostile to me and my position.

("Of Gary Novak and the Columbia River"(4-28-01); italics in original)

Ironically, as almost always, White writes about disagreement not necessarily being "hatred" at all, thus refuting his own paranoid characterizations of so many who simply have an honest disagreement with him:

Since post-moderns confuse refutation of error with “hate-speech,” let me say up-front: I believe Mr. Sungenis wrong on all these issues. In fact, I believe him ignorant of a number of the areas he is attempting to address. It is not hateful, unkind, or unloving to say these things if documentation and reasoned thinking is provided to substantiate the conclusion. If factual support is provided, the assertions are simply truthful, and truth is not hateful. However, if the accusations are made but no reasonable argumentation is provided to substantiate the assertions, a case can then be made that one is engaging in false argumentation and personal attack.

("An Excellent Example of Sola Ecclesia: John 6 and Exegesis", 3-23-01; italics in original)

In responding to a Mormon who charged that White "hates" Mormons because he opposes their doctrine, he wrote:

Is it not far more likely that the "unrelenting hatred" is to be found in those who misrepresent others, are dishonest in their writings, and who seek to damage others’ reputations by dishonesty? Yes, Mr. Barksdale accuses me of misrepresentation, just as I am accusing him. There is, of course, one glaring difference: I have documented his misrepresentations. He documented nothing. Instead, his desire is obviously to do nothing more than communicate to his readers that I am a hateful, vengeful person.

("A Brief Reply to D.L. Barksdale", 7-21-00)

Of what further need is there to prove that White's rhetoric about his opponents is extreme? He himself makes the relevant point. Now if he would only follow his own advice . . . but that would be a single consistent standard, and as we have seen again and again: where anti-Catholics are concerned, they must almost always apply a double standard. White can easily disagree without hating the Mormon or KJV-Only Nut. But it goes without saying that Catholics (and now even Reformed critics) cannot disagree with him without "hating" him. What's the difference? I have no idea. But perhaps Bishop White has some extraordinary ability to read into and judge men's hearts . . .

Democrats Assail Denial of Holy Communion 


Church Being Used for Partisan Purposes, They Tell Cardinal McCarrick

WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 20, 2004 ( Forty-eight Catholic Democrats in Congress sent a laughable letter to Theodore Cardinal McCarrick saying the indications by some bishops to deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians were "deeply hurtful" and counterproductive.

The letter is the first organized response by Democratic legislators since a number of Catholic bishops declared that they would withhold Communion from politicians who favor "abortion rights," the New York Times reported today.

The letter's signers, including at least three House members with strong pro-life voting records, said the bishops are "allowing the Church to be used for partisan purposes.''

They also showed themselves to be ignorant of Church teaching when they questioned why these bishops agreed with the Church by making abortion a litmus test while ignoring politicians who voted counter to the personal opinions of the Pope and many bishops by endorsing the death penalty and the war in Iraq.

Cardinal McCarrick is the chairman of a bishops' task force asked to devise recommendations for U.S. prelates on relations with Catholic politicians.

Recently, Coadjutor Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando, Florida, asked that those in public office who support abortion to refrain from receiving Communion.

"Today, some self-identified Catholic politicians prefer to emulate Pontius Pilate's 'personally opposed but unwilling to impose' stance," he wrote in a statement.

"Perhaps, they are baiting the Church, daring an 'official sanction' making them 'bad Catholics,' so as to gain favor among their secularist,'blue state' constituencies," the coadjutor bishop added. "Such a sanction might turn their lack of coherent Catholic convictions into a badge of courage for people who hold such convictions in contempt."

Bishop Wenski went on to say, "You cannot have your 'waffle' and your 'wafer,' too. Those pro-abortion politicians who insist on calling themselves Catholics without seeing the contradiction between what they say they believe and their anti-life stance have to do a lot more of
'practicing' [holiness]. They need to get it right before they approach the Eucharistic table."

Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland, Oregon, also recently asked those in public office who support abortion to refrain from receiving Communion.

That prompted a prominent donor in the Colorado Springs Diocese to threaten to revoke a $100,000 pledge to his parish's building project and to enlist others to take similar steps, the Denver Post reported Wednesday.

In a scathing "open letter," businessman Ric Kethcart contended that Bishop Sheridan's stance hearkens back to McCarthyism.

Peter Howard, Bishop Sheridan's executive assistant, said the diocese is willing to sacrifice dollars to stake a moral claim, the Post reported. Already, some Catholics in the 10-county diocese who support Bishop Sheridan's leadership have increased their giving, Howard said.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Q & A Forum #3 

I am still not promising long answers but I often give them anyway, despite myself. LOL So give it a crack! I enjoy the interaction. And many thanks, as always, to all my blog visitors (including you lurkers out there, too!: c'mon out and ask a question! I don't bite! :-)

Luther's Error Concerning Justification (N.T. Wright) 

From: "Justification: The Biblical Basis and its Relevance for Contemporary Evangelicalism," excerpt from the book, The Great Acquittal: Justification by Faith and Current Christian Thought, Ed. Gavin Reid, London: Collins, 1980, p.13ff.
The Reformed school have tended to stress the objectivity of justification, the fact that it concerns the total achievement of Jesus Christ. Faith is not the reason why I am declared to be in the right so much as the means whereby I am joined to Christ so that his merits and death become mine. This is in some ways a neat scheme, but it is not what Paul says about faith, and it tends to merge justification with the events which it presupposes, thus virtually making faith appear to be a luxury which follows from the justification which occurs in the cross and resurrection. This is symptomatic of a standard weakness in the Reformed approach, however valuable it may be in other ways as a corrective to faulty views elsewhere within Protestantism.

If the Reformed merge justification and atonement, the Lutheran school (including, I suspect, most English evangelicals) have tended to confuse justification and regeneration, to think of 'justification' as the means whereby one becomes a Christian. This looks back, of course, to Luther's insistence, arising out of his own experience, that one cannot earn salvation by good works, but only receive it through faith. But this has raised all sorts of problems.

First, it easily leads to a neo-Marcionite rejection of the law, suggesting in effect that God had one way of salvation for the Jews and another for Christians.

[Note #76: It is difficult to tie Luther down on points of doctrine, because of the often hasty and over-polemical character of his writings. Yet it will hardly be denied that his thought, and that of his followers, tends in the direction of an outright rejection of the law.]

Popular though that strange theology may be, it makes nonsense of Paul and of the Old Testament itself.

[Note #77: See Cranfield pp. 861f. The 'Lutheran' position has had serious results in the field of Jewish studies (see Sanders, op. cit., pp. 33ff) and of O.T. hermeneutics: in this century the distortion has been increased by the continental alliance of Lutheranism with Idealism and Existentialism, which have strengthened the Protestant tendency to set Christianity apart from history and the historical covenant community.]

The renewal of the covenant in no way implies a change in the way of salvation or the abolition of God's holy law. Second, by asking 'How can I find a gracious God?' and answering 'By faith', Luther not only confused justification and regeneration but consequently put faith in the position of a work, the one thing which God requires as a condition of grace. Third, because Luther realized at the same time that justification belonged to the language of the lawcourt, his statement of the doctrine could easily be misunderstood as a legal fiction, in which God declared people to be something they were not.

Our analysis of justification avoids all these pitfalls. Faith is not a ladder to salvation, an alternative to the law: salvation remains a gift of grace, free and undeserved. Justification is no legal fiction, but God's righteous declaration that the believer is within the covenant. I have no desire, as some appear to have, to play down the value of our Reformation heritage: but I believe we are most faithful to the Reformers when we go back to the New Testament and see whether we can understand it even better than they did.

When we come to the debate between Catholic and Protestant we find that the confusions we have just noted have bedevilled it all through. Because justification has not been separated from regeneration, Roman Catholics have accused Protestants of constructing an antinomian doctrine, an immoral legal fiction, or a hopelessly subjective Christianity in which 'my religious experience' takes the place of the objective facts about Jesus Christ. And a good deal of Protestantism over the last four hundred years, including twentieth-century evangelicalism, must plead guilty to these charges.

But these matters have nothing to do with the real point. The charge of antinomianism or of a 'legal fiction' cannot be levelled at the true Pauline doctrine, as we have seen; and, as the Reformed position has always emphasized, 'my religious experience', important though that ultimately may be, is not the centre of Christianity.


C. E. B. Cranfield, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1975 and 1979.

E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism, SCM, London, 1977.

The Historical Case for the "Apocrypha" 

Seeing that the Great Debate of 2004 is tomorrow: Gary Michuta vs. Bishop James White, on this topic . . . This is Appendix Three from my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism:

The Old Testament in Catholic Bibles contains seven more books than are found in Protestant Bibles (46 and 39, respectively). Protestants call these seven books the Apocrypha and Catholics know them as the deuterocanonical books. These seven books are: Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (or, Sirach), and Baruch. Also, Catholic Bibles contain an additional six chapters (107 verses) in the book of Esther and another three in the book of Daniel (174 verses). These books and chapters were found in Bible manuscripts in Greek only, and were not part of the Hebrew Canon of the Old Testament, as determined by the Jews.

All of these were dogmatically acknowledged as Scripture at the Council of Trent in 1548 (which means that Catholics were henceforth not allowed to question their canonicity), although the tradition of their inclusion was ancient. At the same time, the Council rejected 1 and 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasses as part of Sacred Scripture (these are often included in collections of the "Apocrypha" as a separate unit).

The Catholic perspective on this issue is widely misunderstood (insofar as it can be said to be known at all). Protestants accuse Catholics of "adding" books to the Bible, while Catholics retort that Protestants have "booted out" part of Scripture. Catholics are able to offer very solid and reasonable arguments in defense of the scriptural status of the deuterocanonical books. These can be summarized as follows:

1) They were included in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament from the third century B.C.), which was the "Bible" of the Apostles. They usually quoted the Old Testament scriptures (in the text of the New Testament) from the Septuagint.

2) Almost all of the Church Fathers regarded the Septuagint as the standard form of the Old Testament. The deuterocanonical books were in no way differentiated from the other books in the Septuagint, and were generally regarded as canonical. St. Augustine thought the Septuagint was apostolically-sanctioned and inspired, and this was the consensus in the early Church.

3) Many Church Fathers (such as St. Irenaeus, St. Cyprian, Tertullian) cite these books as Scripture without distinction. Others, mostly from the east (for example, St. Athanasius, St. Cyril of Jerusalem, St. Gregory Nazianzus) recognized some distinction but nevertheless still customarily cited the deuterocanonical books as Scripture. St. Jerome, who translated the Hebrew Bible into Latin (the Vulgate, early fifth century), was an exception to the rule (the Church has never held that individual Fathers are infallible).

4) The Church Councils at Hippo (393) and Carthage (397, 419), influenced heavily by St. Augustine, listed the deuterocanonical books as Scripture, which was simply an endorsement of what had become the general consensus of the Church in the west and most of the east. Thus, the Council of Trent merely reiterated in stronger terms what had already been decided eleven and a half centuries earlier, and which had never been seriously challenged until the onset of Protestantism.

5) Since these Councils also finalized the 66 canonical books which all Christians accept, it is quite arbitrary for Protestants to selectively delete seven books from this authoritative Canon. This is all the more curious when the complicated, controversial history of the New Testament Canon is understood.

6) Pope Innocent I concurred with and sanctioned the canonical ruling of the above Councils (Letter to Exsuperius, Bishop of Toulouse) in 405.

7) The earliest Greek manuscripts of the Old Testament, such as Codex Sinaiticus (fourth century), and Codex Alexandrinus (c.450) include all of the deuterocanonical books mixed in with the others and not separated.

8) The practice of collecting these books into a separate unit dates back no further than 1520 (in other words, it was a novel innovation of Protestantism). This is admitted by, for example, the Protestant New English Bible (Oxford University Press, 1976), in its "Introduction to the Apocrypha," (page iii).

9) Protestantism, following Martin Luther, removed the deuterocanonical books from their Bibles due to their clear teaching of doctrines which had been recently repudiated by Protestants, such as prayers for the dead (Tobit 12:12, 2 Maccabees 12:39-45; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:29), intercession of dead saints (2 Maccabees 15:14; cf. Revelation 6:9-10), and intermediary intercession of angels (Tobit 12:12,15; cf. Revelation 5:8, 8:3-4). We know this from plain statements of Luther and other Reformers.

10) Luther was not content even to let the matter rest there, and proceeded to cast doubt on many other books of the Bible which are accepted as canonical by all Protestants. He considered Job and Jonah mere fables, and Ecclesiastes incoherent and incomplete. He wished that Esther (along with 2 Maccabees) "did not exist," and wanted to "toss it into the Elbe" river.

11) The New Testament fared scarcely better under Luther's gaze. He rejected from the New Testament Canon ("chief books") Hebrews, James ("epistle of straw"), Jude and Revelation, and placed them at the end of his translation, as a New Testament "Apocrypha." He regarded them as non-apostolic. Of the book of Revelation he said, "Christ is not taught or known in it." These opinions are found in Luther's Prefaces to biblical books, in his German translation of 1522.

12) Although the New Testament does not quote any of these books directly, it does closely reflect the thought of the deuterocanonical books in many passages. For example, Revelation 1:4 and 8:3-4 appear to make reference to Tobit 12:15:

Revelation 1:4 Grace to you . . . from the seven spirits who are before his throne. {see also 3:1, 4:5, 5:6}

Revelation 8:3-4 And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God. {see also Revelation 5:8}

Tobit 12:15 I am Raphael, one of the seven holy angels who present the prayers of the saints and enter into the presence of the glory of the Holy One

St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 15:29, seems to have 2 Maccabees 12:44 in mind. This saying of Paul is one of the most difficult in the New Testament for Protestants to interpret, given their theology:

1 Corinthians 15:29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

2 Maccabees 12:44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.

This passage of St. Paul shows that it was the custom of the early Church to watch, pray and fast for the souls of the deceased. In Scripture, to be baptized is often a metaphor for affliction or (in the Catholic understanding) penance (for example, Matthew 3:11, Mark 10:38-39, Luke 3:16, 12:50). Since those in heaven have no need of prayer, and those in hell can't benefit from it, these practices, sanctioned by St. Paul, must be directed towards those in purgatory. Otherwise, prayers and penances for the dead make no sense, and this seems to be largely what Paul is trying to bring out. The "penance interpretation" is contextually supported by the next three verses, where St. Paul speaks of Why am I in peril every hour? . . . I die every day, and so forth.

As a third example, Hebrews 11:35 mirrors the thought of 2 Maccabees 7:29:

Hebrews 11:35 Women received their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, that they might rise again to a better life.

2 Maccabees 7:29 Do not fear this butcher, but prove worthy of your brothers. Accept death, so that in God's mercy I may get you back again with your brothers. {a mother speaking to her son: see 7:25-26}

13) Ironically, in some of the same verses where the New Testament is virtually quoting the "Apocrypha," doctrines are taught which are rejected by Protestantism, and which were a major reason why the deuterocanonical books were "demoted" by them. Therefore, it was not as easy to eliminate these disputed doctrines from the Bible as it was (and is) supposed, and Protestants still must grapple with much New Testament data which does not comport with their beliefs.

14) Despite this lowering of the status of the deuterocanonical books by Protestantism, they were still widely retained separately in Protestant Bibles for a long period of time (unlike the prevailing practice today). John Wycliffe, considered a forerunner of Protestantism, included them in his English translation. Luther himself kept them separately in his Bible, describing them generally as (although sub-scriptural) "useful and good to read." Zwingli and the Swiss Protestants, and the Anglicans maintained them in this secondary sense also. The English Geneva Bible (1560) and Bishop's Bible (1568) both included them as a unit. Even the Authorized, or King James Version of 1611 contained the "Apocrypha" as a matter of course. And up to the present time many Protestant Bibles continue this practice. The revision of the King James Bible (completed in 1895) included these books, as did the Revised Standard Version (1957), the New English Bible (1970), and the Goodspeed Bible (1939), among others.

15) The deuterocanonical books are read regularly in public worship in Anglicanism, and also among the Eastern Orthodox, and most Protestants and Jews fully accept their value as historical and religious documents, useful for teaching, even though they deny them full canonical status.

It is apparent, then, that the Catholic "case" for these books carries a great deal of weight, certainly at the very least equal to the Protestant view.
For related reading, see:

The New Testament Canon

Luther vs. the Canon of the Bible

Dialogue on Objections to the "Apocrypha"

Reply to a Protestant Counter-Response on Development of Doctrine(Particularly With Regard to the New Testament Canon and the Papacy)
(Dave Armstrong vs. Jason Engwer)

Further Dialogue With an Evangelical Protestant on Various Aspects of Development of Doctrine (Particularly Concerning the Canon of Scripture)
(Dave Armstrong vs. Jason Engwer)

"5 Myths about 7 Books" (Mark P. Shea)

Defending the Deuterocanonicals (Jimmy Akin)

Deuterocanonical References in the New Testament (Jimmy Akin)

"Reformed Catholicism" (Paul Owen) 

I found the following comment from Reformed scholar Paul Owen on Cor ad cor loquitur regular Kevin Johnson's blog a succinct summary of the distinction between more sectarian, exclusivistic (usually anti-Catholic) Protestants and those who are much more in touch with their historical theological heritage. Anyone who vigorously opposes the nonsense and illogic of James White (who calls him "Alexander the Coppersmith") and Eric Svendsen, deserves our gratitude and prayers (and of course this makes him about as popular in those circles as I am LOL). Good for you, Dr. Owen.
Those who are complaining about the use of the term "Reformed Catholicism" due so from a position of profound ignorance. The Reformers viewed the leadership of the Catholic church as hopelessly corrupt in their day, but they did not deny a unity of faith with Roman Catholic believers. Calvin is quite representative of the mainstream Reformation in accepting Roman Catholic baptisms as valid, in acknowledging Catholic churches as still being churches of Christ (though lacking the "lawful form" of the church), and in regarding Roman Catholics as God's covenant children. The heart of the problem is the unbiblical sacramentology of Baptist schismatics. Baptist schismatics do not see the proper covenantal function of Trinitarian baptism, and hence they render asunder the visible unity which unites Protestants with their Roman Catholic brethren. They turn what is intended primarily as a God-centered sign of the divine commitment to the covenant community into a man-centered sign of the "faith" of the individual. Hence they exchange the objectivity of baptism as God's pledge to us for the subjectivity of baptism as our "sincere" pledge to God. Because Baptist schismatics hold to a Marcionite interpretation of the Old Covenant, they fail to see the continuity of covenantal structure within the progress of redemption. Hence, they reject the baptisms of those whose individual confessions of faith are deemed suspect because of a failure on the part of Roman Catholics to articulate with hair-splitting precision the precise mechanism of their justification. As if the validity of baptism as a sign of the unity of the New Covenant church (Eph. 4:5) depended upon an individual's theological precision! Trinitarian baptism continues to mark out Roman Catholics as God's covenant children, just as cirucumcision continued to mark out Israel as God's covenant children even in their desparate condition of apostasy and judgment (Gen. 17:7, 10 cf. Deut. 32:18-20). The theology of the Baptist schismatics stinks. Its fumes offend any biblically balanced person like the smell of a contruction site porta-potty at a fancy wedding. It is a subtle form of legalistic justification by works. God's ability to save me is contstrained by the purity of my theological precision. The god of Baptist schismatics sends people to hell for failing to accurately "exegete" all the relevant passages selected from a list of favorite proof-texts. No matter how sincerely one clings to the saving mercy of the Triune God for eternal life, a confusion of justification and sanctification, or a misunderstanding of the nature of free will is sufficient to condemn a person to eternal misery. Thankfully, biblically grounded Christians will reject Baptist schismatic heresy for the inarticulate, clumsy, historically clueless drivel that it is. Speaking as one zealous Reformed Catholic, I am frankly sick of this sectarian nonsense.
Mon May 17, 2004 @ 10:42:54
See also Kevin's own blog entry:

"Our catholic, undoubted Christian faith"

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Revised Fundamentalist Baptist Version (RFBV) 

Bishop James White is currently having fun on his blog (5-18-04), with his "New Reformed Catholic Translation" (NRCT), directed towards his fellow Reformed Protestants who don't follow his anti-Catholic line and unbiblical antipathy to sacramentalism and Church history. As a lover of satire myself, I could hardly resist presenting bits of a new translation I am working on, myself, for the benefit of my Reformed Baptist fundamentalist friends like Bishop White: the Revised Fundamentalist Baptist Version (RFBV), to be published by Eisegetical Press (Phoenix, AZ) in 2005. Enjoy!:
Luke 18:18-25 (RFBV): “And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I believe to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’ And he said, ‘All these I have observed from my youth.’ And when Jesus heard it, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Know that the commandments have nothing to do with your salvation because they concern works. Have faith alone in Me alone, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’ But when he heard this he became sad, for he lacked faith alone. Jesus looking at him said, ‘How hard it is for those who lack faith alone in Me alone to enter the kingdom of God! For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a man who lacks faith alone in Me alone to enter the kingdom of God.’”

1 Timothy 3:15: “. . . the Bible, which is the word of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth.”

Acts 16:4: “As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for reading the Bible passages which had been selected by the apostles and elders who were at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.”

2 Timothy 1:13-14: “Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have read in the Bible . . ."

2 Timothy 2:2: “and what you have read in the Bible before many Baptist witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

John 17:20-23: "’I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be fundamentalist Baptists; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. The glory which thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be Baptists even as John the Baptist was,’”

1 Corinthians 1:10-13: “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same eisegesis. For it has been reported to me by Doug Wilson's people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I belong to James White,’ or ‘I belong to N.T. Wright,’ or ‘I belong to the Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was James White crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church?”

James 2:24: “You see that a man is justified by faith alone and not by works.”

(cf. the blatantly heretical RSV: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone”)

Philippians 2:12-13: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own Bible-reading with fear and trembling; for God is at work in you, both to will and to read the Bible for his good pleasure.”

Hebrews 5:9: “and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who have faith alone in him,”

Matthew 16:27: "For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has failed to believe with faith alone."

Romans 2:5-13: But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his faith alone: To those who by patience in well-believing seek for glory and honour and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not agree with faith alone, but follow wicked Catholic soteriology, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who denies faith alone, the Catholic first and also the Reformed Catholic, but glory and honour and peace for every one who accepts faith alone, the Pelagian first and also the Arminian. For God shows no partiality. All who have followed Christ without faith alone will also perish without faith alone, and all who have followed Christ with faith alone will be judged by their faith alone. For it is not the hearers of the gospel who are righteous before God, but the believers in faith alone who will be justified."

1 Peter 1:17: ". . . who judges each one impartially according to his faith . . ."

Revelation 22:12: "Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one according to how much he has believed in faith alone."

2 Peter 2:15: “Forsaking the right way they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Aquinas, the son of Pelagius, who loved gain from wrongdoing,”

Matthew 7:16-27: “You will know them by their beliefs. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? So, every sound Baptist has good beliefs, but the bad Catholic has evil beliefs. A Baptist tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a Catholic tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. But you will know them by their beliefs. Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who has faith alone in me, which is the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not place Mary above your name, and perform sacraments in your name, and crucify you again in many Masses in your name?' And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you Catholic evildoers.' Every one then who hears these words of mine and believes them with faith alone will be like a wise man who built his house upon the Bible; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the Bible. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not believe them with faith alone will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand of man's tradition; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 25:31-46: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the Real Christian sheep from the Catholic goats, and he will place the Christians at his right hand, but the Catholics at the left. Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for you believed in me with faith alone.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed Catholic idolaters, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for you didn't believe in me with faith alone.’ And the wicked Catholics will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous Christians into eternal life.”

2 Corinthians 5:10: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has believed.”

Acts 8:27-31: “And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a Baptist minister of the True Gospel, had come to Phoenix to worship 28 and was returning; seated in his automobile, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29 And the Baptist elders and fellow bishops said to James White, ‘Go up and join this automobile.’ 30 So Bishop White ran to him, and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ 31 And he said, ‘How can I, unless you guide me?’ And he invited Bishop White to come up and sit with him.”

2 Peter 1:20: “First of all you must understand this, that all prophecy of scripture is perspicuous and a matter of one's own interpretation,”

1 Corinthians 11:2: “I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the biblical interpretations even as the fundamentalist Baptists have delivered them to you.”

2 Thessalonians 2:15: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the eisegetical traditions of Bible-reading which you were taught by us, either by sermons or by e-mail or by webcast.”

Revelation 5:8: “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are not the prayers of the saints (because all prayers go right to God);”

Revelation 8:3-4: “And another angel came and stood at the altar with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense did not rise with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God (because John, who gave you this vision, was only hallucinating).”

1 Corinthians 3:11-15: “For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw -- each man's belief-system will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of belief each one has believed. If the belief which any man has believed on the foundation of Baptist theology survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's belief is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.”

[editor's note: this "fire" is not literal -- let alone the abominable and unbiblical papist, Romish doctrine of purgatory, but merely a metaphorical expression of the pain and frustration experienced by those who will be forced to get up to speed in their infallible fundamentalist Baptist theology, before they can be saved and become worthy of heaven]

Acts 2:38: “And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ without the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

Acts 22:16: “And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized, without washing away your sins, calling on his name.”

1 Peter 3:19-21: “in which he went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20 who formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were saved through water. Baptism, which does not correspond to this, does not save you; it is only a removal of dirt from the body and a bare symbolic ordinance, as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

Luke 22:19-20: “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is not my body which is given for you, but only a mere symbol. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup which is poured out for you is not the new covenant in my blood, but only wine (and you may substitute grape juice after the 19th century temperance movement makes alcohol a scandal in church)’”

1 Corinthians 10:16: “The cup of blessing which we bless, is not a participation in the blood of Christ. The bread which we break, is not a participation in the body of Christ”

1 Corinthians 11:27-30: “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will not be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord, because they are only symbols. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks thinking it is the body of Christ eats and drinks judgment upon himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”

Colossians 1:24: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I cannot complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, because I cannot add anything to Christ's perfect work on the cross”

1 Corinthians 7:7-9: “I wish that none were as I myself am. All have the same special gift from God. To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to get married, unlike myself. Whether they can or cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be a celibate slave of Rome.”

1 Corinthians 7:32-38: “I want you to be free from anxieties. The married man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; but the unmarried man is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please himself, and his interests are divided. And the married woman or girl is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit; but the unmarried woman is anxious about worldly affairs, how to please herself. I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord . . . So that he who marries his betrothed does well; and he who refrains from marriage will do worse; especially pastors, who must always marry, so as to secure undivided devotion to the Lord and their flocks.”

For further related reading, see:

The Holy Bible: Revised Fundamentalist Version : “What the Holy Spirit meant to say”, by my good friend Gary Hoge.

Disclaimer: The RFV wasn't consulted in the course of my work on the RFVB. Any correspondence is, therefore, coincidental and purely accidental, except insofar as we are both motivated and guided by the heretical, wicked, apostate spirit of Unbelief and Pelagian Idolatry; thus arriving at the same or suspiciously similar terminology due to mutual guidance from the same demonic conspirators.

Dialogue With a Homosexual 

Some highlights from a paper of the same name, from April 1999. My opponent's words will be in blue.
The gay rights movement has nothing to do with seeking moral approval.

It sure does, else why do homosexual activists have a cow when we dare to state our Christian belief that homosexual acts are immoral, and that there is no such thing as same-sex marriage? Why don't they allow us to disagree with them, if they are supposedly so concerned about "tolerance" and "diversity?" To merely assert such beliefs is to assure being accused of "homophobia" (a stupid, typically-modernist term which means, literally, "fear of sameness"). Law inevitably has a moral component; there is no escaping it. That is a whole 'nother discussion, but I contend that this is almost a self-evident point (though often overlooked or applied hypocritically by various political activists).

If you want hypocrisy, look no further than the phrase "Love the sinner, hate the sin".

How is that hypocritical? Of course, if you deny the existence of right and wrong, and sin, then there would be a contradiction. But then if you did that, you would have no grounds for saying I am wrong in my present opinions. If, on the other hand, there is such a thing as immorality, then it certainly is love (and profoundly so) to point out to someone that they are harming themselves, and their relationship with God and other human beings, by engaging in sinful activity.

Are we saying to homosexuals that "you must accept the tenets of Christianity and our traditional lifestyle or else you are obviously Christian-a-phobes (and we will force you to by law)?" I have no legal power to force a homosexual to attend church, but they have (or will soon have) the power to force me to accept them as tenants, or to be my church organist, etc.

You are indeed saying that.

Saying what? That a homosexual must attend my church???!!!!! That a homosexual must be a Christian by force of law???!!! This is ridiculous!

Fundamentalist Christianity unleashes it's syrupy vitriol at anyone who is not following the approved "Christian" way of life.

Why do you equate opposition to homosexuality with "Fundamentalist Christianity," when in fact, this has been the consensus of western civilization for 2000 years now? Granted, that civilization is profoundly Christian in its roots, but there are plenty of "secular" types who have agreed with this understanding of the nature of moral, legitimate sex and marriage. It was indeed a societal consensus until the Sexual Revolution made its appearance some 40 years ago.

. . . forced to deal with the likes of Fred Phelps protesting at FUNERALS.

This man is an idiot and no example of any kind of respectable Christian. I could pick the very worst example of a homosexual activists (say, that crazy group that blasphemed at a Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral a few years back), if I wanted to engage in this sort of rhetorical tactic. But I don't think you would appreciate that. Well, I have nothing to do with a fool like Phelps, either.

As long as a person's beliefs and values do not directly affect you, you have no claim to "punish" people, or attempt to make their lives difficult.

Ah, this is crucial. It does affect me, because such a momentous cultural / moral shift has far-reaching consequences for the whole society. This would undermine the very foundation of Christian sexual ethics, just as abortion already has done. Now the last remnants of Christian civilization are being attacked: the nature of marriage, family, gender, sexuality, etc. Your claim is the libertarian one, which is based on the demonstrably fallacious claim that every man lives for himself, and has no effect on anyone else. That is also another huge discussion, but I am saying that your statement is based on false premises.

You forget that Christianity and Judaism and the rest are johnny-come latelys. The earliest and most venerated religions, goddess worship, naturism, paganism, has no such learned hatred for same sex attraction. It is only after religion developed political appetite did the exclusion start.

So you determine the truth of a religion by its mere chronological age? By that reasoning, the human sacrifice of the Aztecs was more moral than the Catholicism of the Conquistadors, simply because it was there (in that particular region) first. Or the rampant cannibalism in the Caribbean islands before Columbus was acceptable -- a matter of "equal rights." Or the widow-burning of the Hindus was superior to the Christianity the English brought to India (even Gandhi opposed the practice, too). Or clitorectomies in Africa are morally preferable to Gloria Steinem "liberation" and "sexual freedom" because they stem from an ancient tradition of some sort. Or the brutal infanticide (by exposure) of babies in pagan Greece and Rome ought to have been retained, rather than the Christian compassionate ethic of protection from "womb to tomb" (now we have the wanton slaughter partial-birth infanticide, and deign to call ourselves "civilized"). Your reasoning here, therefore, is clearly absurd.

As for your comment "The left always thinks it can overturn the moral consensus of millennia by enough propagandizing, sloganizing, Big Lies (e.g., 10% of the population being homosexual -- Kinsey), fiat court decisions, Ellen shows, Heather Has Two Mommies books for first-graders, etc", this could just as easily be said of the religious right. Homosexuality can be changed, Homosexuals are Pedophiles, etc...

That it can be changed is a demonstrable clinical and sociological fact. There are thousands of former practicing homosexuals out there (we define that by the cessation of sodomy). I agree that it is grossly unfair to paint all homosexuals with the pedophilia brush, but there is certainly overlap. I'm sure you have heard of NAMBLA (North American Man-Boy Love Association). But your analogy fails because homosexuality was not the "moral consensus of millennia" -- in terms of Western Civilization. Therefore we are merely attempting to preserve what is left of that culture. The "Gay" Activists are the ones attempting to undermine it. There is no comparison. Both sides have prejudice. I won't make any argument on that. At the same time, I won't stand for such prejudices being projected onto me simply because I have a traditional Christian opinion on the subject.

No one really cares what you think or believe. Your thoughts are your own.

You obviously do. :-)

Your actions, in the public sphere, are what is at issue. I believe you may hold whatever opinion of homosexuality and homosexuals that you like. But that does not mean you should be able to discriminate against someone, or seek to deny them the same EXACT rights that you enjoy, because they do things that make you uncomfortable.

Laws do that all the time. We can't take drugs. We can't kill ourselves. We can't yell "fire" in a crowded building. 5-year-olds can't drive. Teenagers need parental permission to get their ears pierced (but not to kill their preborn child), rape and sexual harassment are considered outrages against women (unless one happens to be the President, and unless one is a feminist defending that President) etc. And in Western Civilization up until very recently, sodomy was considered an objectively disordered, immoral act, contrary to the natural law of normal sexuality (this is arguably evident in the very reproductive anatomy of males and females).

"Unnatural", "unhealthy"? Even your use of those words illustrate my point. Nothing which exists in nature is unnatural.

By that reasoning, you could go have intercourse with a hog, or a baboon, or a duck-billed platypus (if indeed that is possible). You could go stick your toe up someone's nose, or your elbow in their ear. How ridiculous are we gonna get here? I guess you don't think much about the logical outcome of the amazing statements you make. Poisonous mushrooms are natural. Does that mean I should eat them? Swamps are natural. Should I drink from them, or take a bath in one? Niagara Falls is entirely natural, but if I take a boat ride over it, certain consequences will have to be faced. I could get more graphic and absurd, but I trust that you see my point by now.

I see no need to get explicit, because a debate on which sexual acts are unhealthy is purely situational.

It is not in your interest to get explicit. But I must regrettably do so for the very reason that your side does not (for good reason). It is a known fact that anal sex - whether heterosexual or homosexual -- is extremely unhealthy. That is true for the simple reason that the rectum was not intended, or "made," if you will, for these activities, just as a throat is not a receptacle for someone's hand or foot. And it is true because the diseases which result from such activity are manifest (and more than just AIDS and VD). And it is also patently obvious because we are dealing here with human waste. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that that is unhealthy and to be avoided (this is routine hygiene).

Your comparison of normal gay people to child molesters is interesting,

Of course I didn't do that. I was making an analogy to other activities considered "abnormal" by most people, including homosexuals. This is the art of rhetoric and logical argumentation. But listing other deviancies does not imply an equivalance or no difference of degree.

Like the GOP leaders, I imagine you feel frustration akin to "But WHY doesn't everyone see that we are RIGHT!??", never ever seeing how wrong you truly are in your hate, and in the lonely direction you are dragging your supporters in.

How do you define "hate," pray tell? You claim that I am entitled to my opinion, yet now the true colors come out, you drop all the pretense, and flat-out accuse me of hatred.

Religious fundamentalists are using whatever tools are at their disposal to prove that they are not. The difference is, homosexuals are trying to show that they are just as human and worthy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as anyone else. You, however, are trying to deny them this right, or even worse, trying to make those choices for them.

Societies have always had codes of right and wrong. The prohibition of homosexuality has been one of these codes in many societies, including our own. One has to draw a line somewhere. There are still a few things which virtually everyone (including yourself) agrees are wrong: pedophilia, wife-beating, child abuse, rape, incest, murder, theft, torture, etc. Child-killing and fornication and divorce, on the other hand, are now fine in our society at large. Homosexuality is somewhere in the middle: on the way to being accepted as a valid "lifestyle choice."

My question is, how come it took so long to grant equal rights to a community who's only "crime" is to love someone of the same sex?

Because people have an innate sense that this is unnatural and wrong, based on not only Christian teaching, but natural law, per my arguments above about what is "natural and healthy," and what is not. People even today (in our thoroughly secular society) have the same instincts about things like bestiality, incest, or child molestation (I suspect you would agree about those, too). So this sort of thing is not unusual in societies. Homosexuality has formerly been one of these things which most people deemed to be wrong, whether or not they could articulate why. You may not like that fact, but it is a reality, and you will never completely change that, anymore than the feminist movement could effect a fundamental change in how women viewed themselves.

I will point out to you that homosexuality is fundamentally identical to heterosexuality. A person's sexual identity is part of who they are. What they do is a reflection of that, and as such, their public actions should be subject to the same standards of conduct.

So if someone wants to engage in bestiality, would you acknowledge that as a valid form of "sexual identity"?

Normal is as normal does. I suppose you would consider yourself, hatred and all, normal?

No, because I am a sinner. Complete "normalcy" is a sin-free existence, in perfect union with God. But it is one thing to acknowledge that one sins and falls short, quite another to redefine certain sins so that they no longer exist. And there is the hatred charge again. You merely prove my point that the bigotry is just as much on your side as it is on our side, by casually throwing out an outrageous charge of hatred, based on mere disagreement.

All forms of discrimination are NOT illegal. Churches are still allowed to fire or deny advancement to gay members, discriminate on the basis of who they allow to be married.

This is not discrimination. It is a failure of the "member" to be in conformity with the beliefs of the Church (therefore a form of dishonesty and subterfuge). A church is not the state (we have "separation of church and state," remember? The left loves that when it suits their purposes). You talk about us compelling you to adopt our beliefs, yet you think nothing of forcing a Catholic or other Christian to allow members whose beliefs are diametrically opposed to our teaching! You want to force us to deny our heartfelt religious beliefs for the sake of your politico-social agenda. This is no different than the pagan emperors demanding idolatry from Christians. You know what the Christians chose to do in that quandary.

I agree, you cannot legislate morality, any more than you can legislate maturity or enlightenment. Morality is a personal decision, and thoughts cannot be legislated. It is only public action, after objective scruitiny, that can be legislated. Feel free to provide even one, unquestionable, objective reason why homosexuality is any less worthy of public protection as heterosexuality.

I have already given them. Sodomy should be outlawed on health grounds alone, if not moral, religious, and philosophical. These abnormal acts are what Christians oppose. I don't care if two men love each other as long as they are chaste and abstain from immorality. Jonathan and King David did that! This is the Catholic position.

You may most certainly act on what you believe in, for YOUR life. You cannot expect to be supported when you attack ME for living MY life.

Not if my Church is forced to "legitimize" what it believes to be immoral. You can't have it both ways. You spout your libertarian, supposedly "tolerant" and "enlightened" rhetoric, but when push comes to shove -- despite yourself -- you are quite willing to compel Christians to adopt your viewpoint, by force of law and coercion, not the force of moral and philosophical persuasion.

Your view of homosexuality is irrelevant. You are not a homosexual, and therefore speak only from ignorance as to the mind of a homosexual person, of which there are millions anyway.

Well, then all your opinions about Christianity are "irrelevant" since you are not a Christian! There are many more millions of Christians than homosexuals -- if numbers must be a criterion of truth.

You have not objective basis on which to label homosexuality for the rest of the thinking public.

So you say. I have given my arguments, but you obviously are not addressing them. Prove to me, e.g., that sodomy is a healthy thing (the moral and health equivalent to vaginal sexual intercourse), and that no one has to worry about it harming them. I would love to see you attempt that.

I am neutral towards most Catholics, or people of any faith, even of people who are fundamentalist or conservative. Their beliefs are their own, and it is not my place to think for them.

If this is "neutral," I would hate to see "hostile" or "opposed."

Their public actions, which seek to try and deny a community equal rights, are worthy of the highest contempt, as are those of racists, and other dictatorial movements.

But of course homosexuals aren't ever bigots, right? And that's because they are victims, and so it is impossible by definition, just as we are told that by some leftists that black people can't be bigots, either.

I can take it that you are definitely not black.

Correct. We have to find something we can agree on . . .

10,000,000 people can still be wrong.

Of course. And one can be right, if that is all that is left. Athanasius contra mundum.

You cannot even see what you are saying as venomous hatred, because you think you have the omnipotent god on your side. So how could you be wrong? Simple. Your positions attempt to strip people of the basic rights that you enjoy because they make you uncomfortable.

You confirm precisely what I have critiqued: the attitude of scorn and derision directed towards all who merely take another view from yourself. In your black-and-white humanist world without nuance of philosophy or the accumulated human wisdom of religious reflection, a disagreement -- by its very nature -- becomes "venomous hatred." I guess there really is no dialogue here after all. My initial impression was that you were a very intelligent, thoughtful person, with whom I could dialogue and reach some level of understanding. But your persistent charges of hatred, bigotry, spiritual pride, etc. will not make that possible. Constructive discourse cannot exist with such extreme charges being cavalierly spewed out.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Christian Filmmaker's Creed  

I was asked to write this by a friend and filmmaker, Dr. Stanley Williams, for use in his work (his stated purposes and outlook, etc.). It is always an interesting discussion to go over the relationship of Christianity to art, and responsibilities of Christians in the arts in presenting their material in a fashion consistent with their Christian beliefs and ideals:

The primary goal of the Christian filmmaker is to promulgate -- with all the artistic means at his disposal -- truth, from a broad-based, biblically-grounded Christian perspective, or worldview (Philippians 4:8). Positively, this entails a presuppositional adherence to those theological doctrines agreed-upon by virtually all Christians, formulated classically in the Nicene Creed.

In a negative sense, the Christian filmmaker should always seek to avoid the cinematic glorification, gratuitous use, or "normative portrayal" of (from a broad Christian view) morally and theologically objectionable ideas or acts (e.g., clear violations of the Ten Commandments, nihilism, unnecessarily explicit sexuality, prejudice and bigotry, hedonism,
narcissism, ethnocentrism, etc.).

Such morally or theologically "objectionable" elements will ordinarily be present in a Christian film, in the antagonists and to some extent in the protagonists (as all human beings are fallen and flawed, and legitimate drama demands this), but in such a way that they are ultimately contrasted against the backdrop of a Christian ethos or framework. They are not, therefore, in the Christian filmmaker's work, sanctioned or condoned in any way, shape, or form, and furthermore, the negative results flowing from sin are made manifest in some fashion in the script (perhaps only at the end of the movie, but obviously so, in any event).

In other words, typically non-Christian traits must be leading characteristics of the "bad guys" and shown (in the final analysis) in their true, repulsive colors, as both sinful and harmful to the individual and others. Many "secular" films indeed exhibit this aspect in many ways, some quite effectively and profoundly, but the Christian film makes the true nature of reality, beauty and love, the benefits of grace and discipleship, and the consequences of sin its primary goal, whether this is portrayed implicitly or explicitly (truth can be set forth in many different ways, depending on the filmmaker's purpose and intended target audience).

Even a fantasy world ought to contain (or at least not blatantly contradict) a transcendental God (i.e., a theistic universe), as in, e.g., the fantasies of C.S. Lewis, because God is the root and ground of all reality (Colossians 2:3; Acts 17:27-28). Adultery or murder would, therefore, be just as evil in a fantasy-world as in a cinematic presentation of a "real world," just as a parable of Jesus does not and cannot contain a moral falsehood, even though it is purely fictional.

Some popular movies (though usually not totally devoid of moral or artistic merit, by any means) in effect glorify (biblically-forbidden) white magic, or sorcery, and present it as normative to everyday reality, whereas the Christian movie (by nature) could not do this, and would ultimately ground beneficent supernatural or (to use a better word) miraculous acts in the divine will and power; in God, as opposed to (famously) a so-called "force." Theism need not always be explicit in a film, but the overall worldview of a "Christian film" must be consistent with a biblical, Christian understanding of reality in all its aspects.

The presentation of historical events and figures -- particularly Christian or biblical persons and history -- poses peculiarly difficult and complex problems of historical accuracy, insofar as that can be achieved, given the usual and inevitable bias of individuals. At the very least, the Christian filmmaker must avoid all tendentious or ideological distortions of the known, widely-accepted facts of history. Historical fiction is valid and plausible insofar as it dramatically builds upon more-or-less accepted facts, so that it doesn't distort (a half-truth being almost as bad as a plain lie) essential characteristics of persons and events.

Beyond that, the Christian film cannot present as truth doctrines or viewpoints which are widely rejected among Christians. An example of such distortion would be the portrayal of (what Christians know as) the Two Natures of Christ (or, Hypostatic Union), in The Last Temptation of Christ. In an erroneous (even if well-intended) attempt to "humanize" Jesus, to help us to better "relate" to Him (according to the director's and screenwriter's own stated goals), our Lord, the incarnate God, is shown to possess certain Nestorian-like traits such as doubt or inner turmoil, and enticement towards sin, which are blatantly contrary to the orthodox Christology which is accepted by all three major branches of Christianity (developed in its final form at the Council of Chalcedon in 451).

Truth has an inherent power, and is able to be ascertained by any individual who seeks it, by the grace of God (Romans 1:18-20, 2:13-16). It can, and should, therefore, affect viewers of well-made,
artistically meritorious Christian films in a special and profound way. The Christian film might choose to emphasize a particular aspect of truth (aesthetic, metaphysical, scientific, moral, relational, emotional, spiritual, etc.), utilizing a full and free artistic and technically proficient expression, yet the goal is to always base the dramatic vision within a truly Christian framework and worldview, so that the viewer can walk away with a better grasp of one or more aspects of the truths of Christianity and the gospel or (more generally) a theistic universe, than he or she possessed before having watched the film.

Dialogue on The Last Temptation of Christ and the Responsibility of Moviemakers to be Historically and Theologically Accurate + Christian Filmmaker's Creed (Dave Armstrong and Stanley D. Williams)

See other movie reviews of mine:

Meditations and Dialogues on The Passion of the Christ and its Cultural and Ecumenical Effects (Dave Armstrong with Kevin D. Johnson and P. Andrew Sandlin -- both Reformed Protestants, and Dr. James White)

Catholic Response to the Movie Luther (2003): "Good to Hear Both Sides of the Story"

Ivanhoe (1997)

Titanic as a Springboard for Cultural Analysis

Also, movie (and music) links:

My Favorite Rock, Pop, and R & B Singles, Albums, Bands, and Singers + Music and Movie Links

Corrected by Yet Another Protestant Overlord 

What would I do without these kind, compassionate folks who selflessly take it upon themselves to correct my manifold, egregious errors and save me from damnable lies, by sending me these "refutals"? I'd be in rough shape, huh?

Excuse me while I get a decrepit ancient (KJV) Bible out of my attic, dust it off, and attempt to read it, per this gentleman's sage advice.

Here is the latest letter, exactly as I received it:
Subject: rsv bible?

Try to back roman catholic doctrine by using the king james :)

Also its obvious that you are blinded, fire in the bible means the word of god not purgatory sir.

"And there appeared unto to them cloven tongues like as of fire...." Acts.

"And he will make fire come down from heaven...." Revelation (false tongues)

Thats just one easy refutal of just one of many heretical doctrines sir.

Please read the bible instead of the commandments of man (the catecism).

God bless you!

Erol ALici

Dialogue on Hell & the "Conditional" Possibility of Universalism 

I have moved relevant material here from another thread. The discussion will take place in the BlogBack function. Please feel free to join in.

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