Tuesday, September 14, 2004

"I'd Rather Not": CBS News Descends Rapidly From the Lofty Heights of the Edward R. Murrow Golden Era

CBS News, the great icon of left-leaning propagandistic reporting, is currently embroiled in a tremendous controversy over its use of sources, which evidence increasingly reveals as outright forgeries. In an attempt to bring down President Bush (or at least his high standings in recent polls), Dan Rather has been championing some "recently-discovered" documents which cast doubt on a young George W. Bush's character during his National Guard days.

After serious doubts as to authenticity have been expressed from many quarters, and suspicions raised in some environs about a smelly attempt between the CBS News division and high Democratic Party operatives to create a scandal to counterract the severe damage of examinations of Kerry's wartime service, Rather's boys have decided to adopt a fortress mentality. As of the Evening News tonight (Tuesday, September 14th), they were still standing by their story.

Ironies abound here. Rush Limbaugh has been pointing out that "CBS News has become what they hate: Richard Nixon." For those unfamiliar with the Watergate Scandal of 1972-1974 (the second favorite scandal of liberals after the McCarthy hearings), President Richard Nixon was caught taking part in illegal political dirty tricks during his campaign in 1972 against George McGovern. That was bad enough, but as the liberal media and all liberals have so fondly informed us for more than 30 years now: "the cover-up was far worse than the crime."

Showing scarcely little historical memory, Rather & Co. now have chosen the hubris-ridden, prideful Nixonian path of "never surrender no matter what." As evidence mounts that their sources were highly questionable, CBS News hunkers down and refuses to retract the story. Had they done so early on, it probably would have been a minor controversy which would have quickly died down. As it is, they are willing to stake their very reputation on this story. It has the potential to do irreparable harm to the journalistic integrity of this supposed factually-based, truth-telling organization. Rather than a minor explosion in the furnace room, this could now be a self-inflicted lethal wound: a sort of bizarre death wish.

Of course, conservatives like myself have known of the severe liberal bias of the "major media" for many years, but some of the public still seems unaware of it. A proof that such an outlet is "in bed" with those in the Kerry campaign, utilizing dirty tricks and lies in order to harm Bush, as the Kerry campaign desperately flails away with utter futility, would expose once and for all the sham of the "objective, fair-minded (liberal) reporter." It would be a fitting end to Rather's career: go out like Nixon in disgrace, and be remembered for this ridiculous cover-up by posterity, just as Bill Clinton is remembered chiefly as Monica Lewinsky's lover. Ah, the "poetic justice" of it. If ever one were tempted to embrace the eastern notion of karma, this is one such moment. :-) What you give out, comes back to you. Or, as Christians would say, "you reap what you sow."

Let's examine some recent analyses of the scandal. You make up your own mind about where the facts lie, and whether these documents should be trusted as reliable:

William Safire:
Rather ought to recognize the preponderance of doubt

New York Times
September 14, 2004

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Alert bloggers who knew the difference between the product of old typewriters and new word processors immediately suspected a hoax: The "documents" presented by CBS News suggesting preferential treatment in Lt. George W. Bush's National Guard service have all the earmarks of forgeries.

The copies of copies of copies that formed the basis for the latest charges were supposedly typed by Guard officer Jerry Killian three decades ago and placed in his "personal" file. But it is the default typeface of Microsoft Word, highly unlikely to have been used by that Texas colonel, who died in 1984 [see the exact evidence from one blog]. His widow says he could hardly type and his son warned CBS that the memos were not real.

When the mainstream press checked the sources mentioned or ignored by "60 Minutes II," the story, which aired on Wednesday, came apart.

The Los Angeles Times checked with Killian's former commander, the retired Guard general who a CBS executive had said would be the "trump card" in corroborating its charges. But it turns out CBS had only read Maj. Gen. Bobby Hodges the purported memos on the phone, and did not trouble to show them to him. Hodges now says he was "misled" -- he thought the memos were handwritten -- and believes the machine-produced "documents" to be forgeries. (CBS accuses the officer of changing his story.)

The L.A. Times also checked out a handwriting analyst, Marcel Matley (of Vincent Foster suicide-note fame), who CBS had claimed vouched for the authenticity of four memos. It turns out he vouches for only one signature, and no scribbled initials, and has no opinion about the typography of any of the supposed memos.

The Dallas Morning News looked into the charge in one of the possible forgeries dated Aug. 18, 1973, that a commander of a Texas Air Guard squadron was trying to "sugarcoat" Bush's service record. It found that the commander had retired from the Guard 18 months before that.

The Associated Press focused on the suspicion first voiced by a blogger on the Web site Freerepublic.com. about modern "superscripts" that include a raised "th" after a number. CBS, on the defense, claimed that "some models" of typewriters of the '70s could do that trick, and some Texas Air National Guard documents released by the White House included it.

"That superscript, however," countered the AP, "is in a different typeface than the one used for the CBS memos." It consulted the document examiner Sandra Ramsey Lines of Paradise Valley, Ariz., and reported, "She could testify in court that, beyond a reasonable doubt, her opinion was that the memos were written on a computer."

The Washington Post reported Dan Rather's response to questions about the documents' authenticity: "Until someone shows me definitive proof that they are not, I don't see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumor mill" and questioned the critics' "motivation."

After leading with that response, Post media reporter Howard Kurtz noted that the handwriting expert Matley said that CBS had asked him not to give interviews, and that an unidentified CBS staff member who had examined the documents saw potential problems with them: "There's a lot of sentiment that we should do an internal investigation."

Newsweek (which likes the word "discredited") has apparently begun an external investigation: It names "a disgruntled former Guard officer" as a principal source for CBS, noting that "he suffered two nervous breakdowns" and "unsuccessfully sued for medical expenses."

It may be that CBS is the victim of a whopping journalistic hoax, besmearing a president to bring him down. What should a responsible news organization do?

To shut up sources and impugn the motives of serious critics -- from opinionated bloggers to straight journalists -- demeans the Murrow tradition. Nor is any angry demand that others prove them wrong acceptable, especially when no original documents are available to prove anything.

. . . Hey, Dan: On this, recognize the preponderance of doubt. Call for a panel of old CBS hands and independent editors to re-examine sources and papers. Courage.

Is It a Hoax?
Experts weigh in on the 60 Minutes documents. Says one: "I'm a Kerry supporter myself, but . . . I'm 99% sure that these documents were not produced in the early 1970s."

by Stephen F. Hayes 09/09/2004 7:20:00 PM
The Weekly Standard

DOCUMENTS CITED Wednesday by 60 Minutes in a widely-publicized expose of George W. Bush's National Guard Service are very likely forgeries, according to several experts on document authenticity and typography. The documents--four memos from Killian to himself or his files written in 1972 and 1973--appear to indicate that Bush refused or ignored orders to have a physical exam required to continue flying. CBS News anchor Dan Rather reported the segment and sourced the documents this way: "60 Minutes has obtained a number of documents we are told were taken from Col. Killian's personal file," he said. The 60 Minutes story served as the basis for follow-up news reports for dozens of news organizations across the country. The memos were almost immediately questioned in the blog world, with blog Power Line leading the charge.

And according to several forensic document experts contacted by THE WEEKLY STANDARD say the Killian memos appear to be forgeries. Although it is nearly impossible to establish with certainty the authenticity of documents without a careful examination of the originals, several irregularities in the Killian memos suggest that CBS may have been the victim of a hoax.

"These sure look like forgeries," says William Flynn, a forensic document expert widely considered the nation's top analyst of computer-generated documents. Flynn looked at copies of the documents posted on the CBS News website (here, here, here, and here). Flynn says, "I would say it looks very likely that these documents could not have existed" in the early 1970s, when they were allegedly written.

Several other experts agree. "They look mighty suspicious," says a veteran forensic document expert who asked not to be quoted by name. Richard Polt, a Xavier University philosophy professor who operates a website dedicated to typewriters, says that while he is not an expert on typesetting, the documents "look like typical word-processed documents."

There are several reasons these experts are skeptical of the authenticity of the Killian memos. First the typographic spacing is proportional, as is routine with professional typesetting and computer typography, not monospace, as was common in typewriters in the 1970s. (In proportional type, thin letters like "i" and "l" are spaced closer together than thick letters like "W" and "M". In monospace, all the letter widths are the same.)

Second, the font appears to be identical to the Times New Roman font that is the default typeface in Microsoft Word and other modern word processing programs. According to Flynn, the font is not listed in the Haas Atlas--the definitive encyclopedia of typewriter type fonts.

Third, the apostrophes are curlicues of the sort produced by word processors on personal computers, not the straight vertical hashmarks typical of typewriters. Finally, in some references to Bush's unit--the 111thFighter Interceptor Squadron--the "th" is a superscript in a smaller size than the other type. Again, this is typical (and often done automatically) in modern word processing programs. Although several experts allow that such a rendering might have been theoretically possible in the early 1970s, it would have been highly unlikely. Superscripts produced on typewriters--the numbers preceding footnotes in term papers, for example--were almost always in the same size as the regular type.

So can we say with absolute certainty that the documents were forged? Not yet. Xavier University's Polt, in an email, offers two possible scenarios. "Either these are later transcriptions of earlier documents (which may have been handwritten or typed on a typewriter), or they are crude and amazingly foolish forgeries. I'm a Kerry supporter myself, but I won't let that cloud my objective judgment: I'm 99% sure that these documents were not produced in the early 1970s." Says Flynn: "This looks pretty much like a hoax at this point in time."

CBS, in a statement Thursday afternoon, said it stands by the story. The network claims that its own document expert concluded the memos were authentic. There are several things CBS could do to clear up any confusion:

(1) Provide the name of the expert who authenticated the documents for Sixty Minutes.

(2) Provide the original documents to outside experts--William Flynn, Gerald Reynolds, and Peter Tytell seem to be the consensus top three in the United States--for further analysis.

(3) Provide more information on the source of the documents.

(A spokeswoman for CBS, Kelly Edwards, said she was overwhelmed with phone calls and did not respond to specific requests for comment.)

Stanley Kurtz
National Review Online
September 13, 2004, 10:46 a.m.

From Biased to Partisan
The mainstream media moves left.
. . . Why did Dan Rather and CBS News, against all expectations, impeach their own credibility to defend the authenticity of memos that are almost certainly forgeries? The obvious answer is that they did it to save the faltering Kerry campaign from a final and decisive blow. If CBS were to admit that the documents were forgeries, it would have no grounds for protecting its sources. In fact, CBS would have a positive obligation to do everything in its power to expose the malefactors behind the forgeries. If the trail led back to the Kerry campaign, president Bush's reelection would be assured. Dan Rather has been at pains to derogate those who are interested in where the documents came from. This sounds suspiciously like Rather is concerned about what a revelation of his sources might mean. Certainly, if Rather personally received the forgeries from a Kerry operative, it would be a disaster for Rather. That alone might seem to be sufficient to explain CBS's refusal to admit its error. (It now appears that CBS News may well have received the documents from a partisan and highly questionable source.)

. . . By standing behind a story that is so obviously flawed, Rather and CBS News are setting themselves up to become laughing stocks. . . .

. . . Gradually, with the exit of moderates and conservatives to other networks and the alternative media, CBS's audience is probably now composed largely of liberal Democrats. In the middle of the most divisive presidential election in years, we have to assume that the CBS audience itself is far more interested in helping John Kerry than in getting to the bottom of the forgery issue. So as the country increasingly divides into two media camps, the "mainstream media" is becoming more openly partisan. And it's the audience that's driving this — not only, or even primarily, the journalists, liberal though journalists may be.

No matter how much the media scene has changed, many of us carry an image in our minds of the old CBS News. In the days when the country had only three network newscasts to watch, CBS was the most prestigious of all. Back then, CBS News would certainly have repudiated the forgeries (in the unlikely event that they would have fallen for them in the first place). Had they not repudiated the documents, CBS News would have risked the loss, along with its reputation for fairness, of half or more of its audience. But nowadays, toughing it out on behalf of John Kerry is only likely to reinforce audience loyalty among CBS's partisan viewers. The CBS audience might find its enthusiasm for Dan Rather dampened considerably if an admission from Rather ended up bringing down their candidate.

We conservatives can talk all we want about CBS putting its credibility at risk. But the truth is, we ceased to take the word of Dan Rather or CBS a long time ago. What's more, CBS knows this. And that is why they're sticking with their story. In other words, the exit of increasing numbers of conservatives and moderates from the mainstream-media audience is pushing mainstream outlets to the left.

. . . What all this means is that, given its audience, CBS News is no longer concerned about preserving it reputation for fairness. On the contrary, CBS now wants and needs to preserve its reputation for liberalism.

We are still in transition. Mainstream (i.e., liberal) outlets are still bigger. That means they still get more attention from voters in the middle. The mainstream media cannot entirely ignore accusations of bias, and still needs to maintain a veneer of neutrality and professionalism. Up to now, the media's liberalism was most unambiguously evident on social issues. Political coverage was the one place where real efforts at balance were made. But in this election, we have seen a major shift toward bias even in political coverage. The mainstream media are now working for the Democratic party with all the enthusiasm of Wendy's "unofficial spokesman." In reality, of course, Wendy's unofficial spokesman is their most official and important representative. The mainstream media's relationship to the Democratic party is now about the same.

For further reading:

Wizbang!: Rather's Trent Lott Moment?

Ace of Spades HQ: Newsweek Suggests Possible Source For CBSNews "Documents"

The Burden of Belief A list of what you need to believe in order to conclude that CBS's documents aren't forgeries, by Fred Barnes, The Weekly Standard, 09/13/2004 12:55:00 PM

Anatomy of a Forgery, The American Spectator, 9-10-04

John Fund, I'd Rather be Blogging: CBS Stonewalls as "guys in pajamas" uncover a fraud, Wall Street Journal, 9-13-04

RatherBiased.com: Documenting Dan Rather and CBS News [website with links to many pieces on the scandal]

Friday, September 10, 2004

2004 Presidential Election Predictions

This is at least two months too late. Readers will have to take my word that I thought exactly the same thing (in terms of the numbers I am predicting) two months or more ago, when the polls were much closer than they now are. But anyway; better late than never. I want to see how much of a "political prophet" I can be. Here are my predictions, for the record:

Bush: 53%
Kerry 45%
Nader 2%

Bush: 32 states
Kerry: 18 states

Bush: advantage of about 60 electoral college votes (no "Florida fiasco" this year)

Here are some of my reasons:

1. The Southern vote will be key in the electoral college. The South has voted increasingly Republican since 1968. Clinton was an exception in the Presidential races, because he was a Southerner and pretended to be a "good ole boy" moderate; even a conservative in some ways. The same was true for Jimmy Carter (and he had the assistance of the Watergate scandal). But the South will not be fooled by a Senator from Massachusetts, with the most liberal record in the Senate. Besides, Bush was raised in Texas. Bush will take almost all of these states. Gore even lost his own home state of Tennessee in 2000. If he had just won that, he would have won the election.

2. The ludicrous, largely-irrelevant Kerry "Vietnam hero" convention strategy has obviously been a dismal failure (even beyond the swift boat vets controversy). People are concerned about the problems today with world terrorism, which are quite different from the old Cold War, with its hot spots in Korea and Vietnam. They observe what Bush has been doing and they agree with it. People are skeptical of Kerry's effort to make it appear like he is some sort of "liberal hawk." It's absurd: the man voted for the resolution to use force in Iraq; now he is against it. He has flip-flopped all over the place. Democratic Senator Zell Miller put it best. After recounting about a dozen weapons systems that Kerry voted down, he asked (paraphrase), "what does he expect the military to use, spitballs?" Kerry has no plan to speak of to fight terrorism. All he can do is criticize every jot and tittle of Bush's plan. This won't do (to put it mildly).

3. People also know that Kerry is a liberal. It has become (especially this year) a ridiculously transparent game that the Democrats have been playing ever since Carter in 1976: pretending to be moderates and being publicly ashamed of what they really are: political liberals. When they run as what they are: unashamed, unabashed, old-style leftist, self-righteous, more compassionate / smarter-than-thou liberals (with 60s radical elements increasingly predominant), they lose (and lose big): McGovern: 1972, Carter II: 1980, Mundal; oops, Mondale: 1984, Dukakis, 1988. When they pretend that they aren't liberals, they win or come very close to doing so: Carter: 1976, Clinton I: 1992 (but then only because of Ross Perot taking away G.H.W. Bush votes), Clinton II: 1996, Gore: 2000.

4. Kerry's major dilemma (closely related to #3) is that he hasn't clearly shown what he believes and stands for. He tried to run as some sort of moderate, but now that the polls have tilted heavily towards Bush, he is going back to Howard Dean-style orthodox liberalism. The problem is that this is an era where such indecision and cynical spin doctoring won't play anymore. It is a post-911 world. The usual Democrat, Clintonian, chameleon-like political games just won't fly. Bush is who he is. Kerry, very much like Bill Clinton, sticks his spit-covered finger up in the air every day to see which way the wind is blowing, and assumes that persona for that day. It ain't gonna work . . .

5. No Senator from the Northeast has won in 44 years (JFK in 1960; and he was quite conservative by today's standards; he cut taxes and was an avid anti-Communist, even to the extent of commencing our involvement in Vietnam). In fact, no former Senator from anywhere has won since 1964 (LBJ), and that was only after he had been Vice-President and then President due to JFK's assassination. Every victor from 1964 on (for whatever reason) was either an incumbent President, Vice-President, or a Governor.

6. Every post-Kennedy Democrat who has won the Presidency has been from the South (LBJ, Carter, Clinton). Even then, there were fairly clear, "deciding factor" reasons for victory: the "sympathy" vote in 1964 (LBJ having been JFK's Vice-President, Watergate, and Ross Perot's hijacking of the G.H.W. Bush II campaign due to a personal vendetta: Clinton only received about 41% of the vote in 1992, and only 49% in 1996).

7. Bush has the advantage of incumbency (which even got Clinton re-elected after folks knew he was an inveterate liar and womanizer, and Nixon re-elected despite Vietnam and the beginnings of the Watergate scandal), and a high approval rating. He wins the character and leader "sweepstakes" hands-down.

I could think of more reasons, but dinner awaits, so that will be sufficient for now . . .

Monday, September 06, 2004

Dialogue on Catholic Soteriology (Specifically, Grace) -- vs. Phillip Johnson

Phillip Johnson is the Executive Director of popular expositor John MacArthur's Grace to You radio and tape ministry, and oversees extensive theological web pages, including the Hall of Church History. The following dialogue took place on the public Theology List, in late 1996. Phillip's words will be in blue.

I'd like you to show me where the Catechism of the Catholic Church says anything about God securing our cooperation by grace.

Gladly: #1989, 1992-1993, 1996, 1998-2003, 2007-2010, 2018, 2022-2023, 2025-2027, pp. 482-487, 489-490.

#1996 reads:

Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life.


No one can merit the initial grace which is at the origin of conversion . . .

But, Dave, not one of those passages teaches that God secures the sinner's cooperation.

I disagree (what else is new?). I think #1996, 1998, and 2001 in particular do precisely that, and more, since they speak of eternal life as a gift of God, entirely unearned by man apart from God. The immediate question above had to do with God securing our cooperation, not salvation, and I answered it, 25 times. If you meant "secure our salvation" (a different proposition), then -- in my humble opinion -- you should have made that more clear.

Read my post again. I did not merely ask you to cite where the Catechism refers to divine grace. I asked you to show me where it describes grace as something that actually secures either 1) a positive response from the sinner, or 2) ultimate salvation for anyone.

In the immediate context above, you referred to the sinner's cooperation, not "ultimate salvation." In fact, we Catholics do hold that God elects persons to eternal salvation. Right now in my debate with [a Calvinist], you'll note that he often refers to the Thomist position on predestination as very similar to his own Calvinist position (at least where the elect are concerned, I would hasten to add).

. . . and that does not demonstrate what I asked for. It doesn't even come close. Note that it describes grace as "help." So it's saying grace is something that assists the willing sinner. This does not suggest that grace secures anyone's willingness.

I simply refer readers to my post on Catholic predestination. The Catechism wisely refrains from elaborate expositions of predestination. Catechisms are not systematic theologies. They are written for laymen attempting to understand and live out Catholic Christianity, not philosophers, theologians, or impractical people like us who have nothing better to do than sit around and discuss stuff like supralapsarianism, transubstantiation, and antidisestablishmentarianism. Even so, I think the three citations above -- rightly understood -- provide the stricter answer you are looking for.

Even semi-Pelagians believe that grace is a necessary aspect of salvation. No one has disputed that Roman Catholicism believes that much.

Not even Jack Chick or Tony Alamo et al?

But, Dave, the simple fact is that Rome does not believe grace actually secures the salvation, or even the willingness, of anyone.

And Bah humbug!!!!!!!!!!!! Patent falsehoods . . .

Indeed, this is a major point on which Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Semi-Pelagians, and Arminians all agree against the Reformation: all these views deny that God has any control whatsoever in gaining the sinner's cooperation and assent. Instead, conversion is left to "free will." Therefore your God is helpless to save someone who is determined to pursue sin and rebellion.

This is abysmally ignorant and astonishing in one so learned and otherwise eloquent. Aside from the citations above, anyone can readily verify the outrageous falsity of these charges (at least with respect to Catholicism), by reading the following chapters from the Decree on Justification from the Council of Trent: 3, 5, 7, 8, and also the Canons 1-3. Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott states that the following proposition must be believed by all orthodox Catholics (a de fide dogma):


Ott says that the doctrinal definitions of Trent presuppose this.

Well, I urge anyone who really thinks I might be wrong to read those documents and see for yourself that there is nothing here to suggest that grace actually secures a positive response from the sinner. The grace described by Trent cannot ensure even the repentant sinner's ultimate salvation. On the contrary, if you read the whole document, you will note that the Decree on Justification (chap. 15) teaches that those who receive grace can lose it by committing a mortal sin.

Of course. Just as in Calvinism, someone who goes to hell (due to mortal sin, in Catholicism) is obviously not among the elect (but even so, we can't know that for sure, as we don't know the eternal destiny of anyone -- excepting instances such as Elijah). Calvinists have no more "assurance" than we do because when someone falls away, you simply say that proves he was not divinely elected. We simply can't know with certitude who is to be saved, and who damned, whatever the deluded self-confident claims are to the contrary. It reduces to an epistemological, not theological, problem. Believers in both parties, however, can certainly have a very high degree of assurance of being in right relation to God, especially if they are living righteous, upright lives, which is a sign of election in both systems.

[Snip stuff on Catholicism and predestination. I'll leave all that to someone else.]

Very convenient for you! This is precisely what is most relevant to the discussion, and you want to "leave all that to someone else." I assume, then, that you'll "leave" the response to my predestination post to "someone else" too?

[he did, but no one else in a list of 100 or so Protestants -- I was the lone active Catholic -- ever took up the challenge]

You have in effect claimed that the Council of Trent affirmed the Calvinistic doctrine of Irresistable [sic] Grace.

No, you're putting words in my mouth. But my predestination post ought to be of great comfort and use to you, when you see how similar we really are, just as I have been pleasantly surprised about Calvinism, the more I learn about it, from people who have been patient enough to explain it carefully.

My God [note the implication that Catholics, and even Arminian Protestants, worship a different God] on the other hand, can even effect the total turnaround of someone like Saul of Tarsus--or worse yet, Phillip Johnson.

Mine, too. We worship the same Lord.

I believe that Roman Catholicism, since Trent, has so seriously corrupted the doctrine of justification that it does not deserve to be regarded as authentic Christianity (cf. Gal. 1:8-9). I deplore Catholic doctrine, just as I deplore Mormon doctrine.

Then you are one confused individual indeed. This is self-defeating and ludicrously incoherent and thus unworthy to be adhered to by any educated Protestant.

That does not mean I dislike Roman Catholics, any more than it means I dislike Mormons. I have great love and concern for people trapped in the darkness of both systems.

Yes, your love, affection, and concern for me is evident in your every post to me! They are so gracious, charitable, conciliatory, etc. . . .

[this was obviously sarcasm -- his letters were stock full of bitter ad hominem attacks]

And for that very reason I would no more assume a Roman Catholic is a brother or sister in Christ than I would make such an assumption about a Socinian [non-trinitarian] "Protestant," a gnostic new-age "Christian," or anyone else who denies that Christ's righteousness alone is the sole and sufficient ground of ourjustification.
What about John Wesley, or C.S. Lewis, or Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or Soren Kierkegaard? Are they equally as suspect in your eyes, on the same grounds? MotherTeresa and St. Francis of Assisi quite possibly in hell . . . ? This is so absurdly asinine, one wonders how to respond. I haven't figured it out yet, obviously so in my dealings with you!

I believe Romans 4:4-5 makes a crystal-clear dichotomy: "To the one who works, his wage is not reckoned as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness." Verse 4 describes those who are working toward ultimate justification. Verse 5 contrasts them with true Christians, who refuse to work for any part of their justification -- but instead they rest their whole confidence on a righteousness that is imputed to them. (See also Phil. 3:7-9.) I'll leave it to you to declare which category you fit into.

I'm in the category of those who "work out" their "own salvation with fear and trembling; for God is at work in [me], both to will and to work for his good pleasure" (Phil 2:12-13 -- NRSV; cf. Mt 5:20, 7:16-27, 16:27, Lk 14:13-14, Acts 6:7, 10:31,35, Rom 1:5, 2:5-13, 6:17, 10:16, 15:18-19, 16:25-6, 1 Cor 3:8-9,13, 4:5, 15:10,58, 2 Cor 5:10, Gal 5:6, 6:7-9, Eph 2:8-10, Col 3:23-25, 1 Thess 1:3, 2 Thess 1:8,11, 1 Tim 6:18-19, Titus 1:15-16, 3:5-8, Heb 11:8, Jas 1:22-27, 2:14-26[cf. Ps 106:30-31], 1 Pet 1:2,17, 2 Pet 1:10, Rev 22:12).

You think "works," even those wholly wrought by God's enabling grace, have nothing to do with justification and salvation. I think the Bible (per the above evidences) perspicuously teaches otherwise, which is why sola fide was unknown, according to Norman Geisler, between the times of Paul and Luther.

Phillip Johnson ranks up with some of my biggest all-time fans. You can read his remarks about me in the "Rah-Rahs, Mixed Reviews, and Dissings" section on my left sidebar. Some notable highlights:

If you'd stop behaving like a hypocrite, people might stop suggesting that you are one . . .

As far as I am concerned, you are an apostate from the truth. Worse, you have abandoned the truth with full knowledge of what you are rejecting.

For me to embrace you warmly and greet you as a dear brother would be the moral equivalent of Judas' kiss (see Gal. 1:8-10).

Saturday, September 04, 2004

33,000 Protestant Denominations?

Recently, the anti-Catholic Pied Piper James White chided me on his Dividing Line webcast for not immediately speaking out against this figure (or similar ones; 23,000 is also often heard) when I was on the radio, after a caller mentioned it (mainly due to lack of time). A friend also wrote, asking for documentation, as to where these kinds of numbers can be found and substantiated. It so happens that I have dealt with this question before, and co-wrote a paper with my good friend Al Kresta, on the topic (dated 19 March 2000):

23,000 or More Protestant Denominations: a Myth of Catholic Apologists or a Documented Fact?

To summarize the gist of the paper; the following charges were made against myself or Al Kresta, from Protestants:

. . . you are LYING about your "separated brethren."

I want to know if we as Christians are justified in inflating information to combat those we disagree with?

The claim that there are 28,000 Protestant denominations is absurd on its face. It is one of the favorite red herrings of pop Catholic apologists, yet has neither basis in fact, nor acceptance by serious theologians of either the Catholic or Protestant persuasion. I have yet to meet anyone who can back this claim by an even partial enumeration of the supposedly 28,000 different

. . . the usage of the 28,000 number by Keating and other pop apologists is arbitrary and capricious at its onset, and is a red herring in any substantive dialogue of this nature.

The 33,000 (or whatever it is today) denominations argument really ticks me off every time
I hear it. I could see some cradle Catholic sourcing a text and sticking with this, but to hear former evangelicals do it just [makes me very angry]. My point? You know better.

These were the accusations made against us and against Catholic apologists in general. They are false, and most unfair. There are indeed sources for these numbers and they are neither Catholic nor unscholarly. The article above can be read in full for all the details, but again, to summarize briefly:

According to the Dictionary of Christianity in America [Protestant] (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1990): "As of 1980 David B. Barrett identified 20,800 Christian denominations worldwide . . ."
("Denominationalism," p. 351). I have this book, so I have seen this with my own eyes. Barrett "classified them into seven major blocs and 156 ecclesiastical traditions." This is from Oxford World Christian Encyclopedia, 1982, of which he is the editor.

Also, according to United Nations there were over 23,000 competing and often contradictory denominations world-wide (World Census of Religious Activities [U.N. Information Center, NY, 1989]). This was cited in Frank Schaeffer's book Dancing Alone (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Press, 1994), p. 4. Schaeffer is Orthodox.

The 1999 Encyclopedia of Christianity has this to say: "In 1985 David Barrett could count 22,150 distinct denominations worldwide." {edited by E. Fahlbusch, et al., Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999, vol. 1, p. 800, s.v. "Denomination." David B. Barrett is the statistical editor}

Citing the Oxford World Christian Encyclopedia, 1982: ". . . a projected 22,190 by 1985 . . . The present net increase is 270 denominations each year (five new ones a week)." {pp. 15-18}

The definition Barrett worked with was that a denomination was "an organized Christian Church or tradition or religious group or community of believers or aggregate of worship centers or congregations, usually within a specific country, whose component congregations and members are called by the same name in different areas, regarding themselves as an autonomous Christian church distinct from other denominations, churches and traditions."

Now, this is where the figures ultimately come from. No doubt some Catholic apologists (even more well-known ones) use them as a kind of "folk truth" -- having heard them bandied about, and we will examine some serious problems with them below. But that doesn't mean the numbers were entirely made-up and arbitrary. As we see, this is untrue: they come from these sources.

One may indeed question the criteria by which "denomination" was defined. This ultimately led to my own skeptical position, and caused me to change my opinion only a short while after I wrote my paper, upon further reflection (and to remove the paper from my website). Strangely enough, one person who helped convince me to change my mind was the anti-Catholic Eric Svendsen (who despises my work and thinks little of me even on a personal level). But I don't care where truth comes from: truth is truth. Eric made a good argument, that I found compelling. Here are a few excerpts from it (30,000 Protestant Denominations? ) -- his words in blue, with some commentary of my own, in black:

I have posed this question over and over again to many different Roman Catholic apologists, none of whom were able to verify the source with certainty. In most cases, one Roman Catholic apologist would claim he obtained the figure from another Roman Catholic apologist. When I would ask the latter Roman Catholic apologist about the figure, it was not uncommon for that apologist to point to the former apologist as his source for the figure, creating a circle with no actual beginning. I have long suspected that, whatever the source might be, the words “denomination” and “Protestant” were being defined in a way that most of us would reject.

As usual, Svendsen paints with too broad a brush. He hadn't checked with me, or my friend Al Kresta (both published Catholic apologists). He states that this is from his book Upon This Slippery Rock, dated 2002. My paper was online in March 2000 and my withdrawal of it occurred not long afterwards. Granted, we can't all see everything that is happening in the apologetics controversies. But at least two apologists cited their sources with great particularity and accuracy. One would never know this by reading Svendsen's characterization (it would ruin the image of the "ignorant Catholic apologist" that he is trying to project). Ironically, then, I was chided by Svendsen's friend James White for not correcting the figure (even mentioning Svendsen), when in fact, I did so over four years ago, whereas Svendsen's book appeared some two years after my paper, and he shows no signs of being aware that any Catholic apologist had so concluded, or that they cited any reputable sources at all. Ironies never cease where anti-Catholics are concerned.

I have only recently been able to locate the source of this figure. I say the source because in fact there is only one source that mentions this figure independently. All other secondary sources (to which Roman Catholics sometimes make appeal) ultimately cite the same original source. That source is David A. Barrett’s World Christian Encyclopedia: A Comparative Survey of Churches and Religions in the Modern World A.D. 1900—2000 (ed. David A. Barrett; New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). This work is both comprehensive and painstakingly detailed; and its contents are quite enlightening.

Good. And as we see, this is the work that Al and I cited. Now here is where Eric starts to make a good point about denominational criteria:

Barrett identifies seven major ecclesiastical “blocs” under which these 22,190 distinct denominations fall (Barrett, 14-15): (1) Roman Catholicism, which accounts for 223 denominations; (2) Protestant, which accounts for 8,196 denominations; (3) Orthodox, which accounts for 580 denominations; (4) Non-White Indigenous, which accounts for 10,956 denominations; (5) Anglican, which accounts for 240 denominations; (6) Marginal Protestant, which includes Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, New Age groups, and all cults (Barrett, 14), and which accounts for 1,490 denominations; and (7) Catholic (Non-Roman), which accounts for 504 denominations. According to Barrett’s calculations, there are 8,196 denominations within Protestantism—not 25,000 . . . 
. . . Barrett indicates that what he means by “denomination” is any ecclesial body that retains a “jurisdiction” (i.e., semi-autonomy). As an example, Baptist denominations comprise approximately 321 of the total Protestant figure. Yet the lion’s share of Baptist denominations are independent, making them (in Barrett’s calculation) separate denominations. In other words, if there are ten Independent Baptist churches in a given city, even though all of them are identical in belief and practice, each one is counted as a separate denomination due to its autonomy in jurisdiction. This same principle applies to all independent or semi-independent denominations. And even beyond this, all Independent Baptist denominations are counted separately from all other Baptist denominations, even though there might not be a dime’s worth of difference among them. The same principle is operative in Barrett’s count of Roman Catholic denominations. He cites 194 Latin-rite denominations in 1970, by which Barrett means separate jurisdictions (or diocese). Again, a distinction is made on the basis of jurisdiction, rather than differing beliefs and practices.

I accept this (and urge people to read his entire article, linked above, to fully understand the considerable force of his objection), and I reject Barrett's calculations (as he defines and categorizes them), just as Eric does. In any event, the criteria of the definition of "denomination" is a different question from whether or not Catholics have pulled it out of thin air in order to embarrass Protestants. I am convinced by Eric's explication of the former, from Barrett himself, but I reject the latter characterization.

Be that as it may, I think we can safely refer to "hundreds" of Protestant denominations, using a cogent doctrinal definition, not merely jurisdictional or superficial (though institutional unity is not an unbiblical characteristic, either, if we want to get technical about it). Biblically speaking, any more than one "denomination" or "Church" is a scandal. The Catholic continues to assert that there is one Church and that the Catholic Church is the fullest institutional expression of that one Church, with other Christians implicitly connected with it to more or less degrees. This (agree or disagree) at least lines up with the biblical witness as to the nature and definition of the Christian Church, rather than being blatantly contrary to the Bible, as the very notion of denominationalism (wholly apart from later disputes about numbers) is.

So, yes, I agree, Svendsen's clarifications of Barrett's meaning and his rebuke are worthwhile, and to be heeded accordingly; it does not follow, however, that the scandal of Protestant denominationalism is therefore alleviated. It is scandalous because it entails a false, unbiblical definition of what the Church is, no matter how many of these sects one arrives at, or by what calculation and criteria.

I, as a Catholic apologist, can easily admit that Svendsen is right about wrongheaded definitions concerning denominations, but that doesn't have any ill effect whatever on the overall Catholic apologetic. On the other hand, Protestant apologists like Svendsen and White (even ecumenical Protestant apologists and other thinkers) have a huge problem trying to biblically justify denominationalism and sectarianism and in determining the internal causes of same (which we Catholics would identify as: sola Scriptura, private judgment, so-called "supremacy of conscience," the sectarian and exclusivistic mindsets, anti-institutionalism, anti-sacerdotalism, rejection of a binding apostolic tradition and Church, and of apostolic succession, episcopacy, even American cultural individualism running rampant within American Protestantism, etc.) that they have by no means ever resolved or even squarely faced.

Did the Catholic Church Change the Ten Commandments to Bolster its Alleged Gross Idolatry?

Eric Landstrom, an evangelical (Arminian) Protestant, with whom I have had some contact, made the following atrocious argument, grounded in ignorance and an unChristian willingness to quickly make a harsh judgment, without doing the proper research, commensurate with the astounding charge. He knows better. He is theologically-educated, and a sharp guy. There is no excuse for this. But this is what irrational prejudice against Catholicism produces, even in otherwise fairly-reasonable folks. It's a classic case.

I have informed Eric of this rebuttal. Here is his article, "Catholic Religion Purposely takes outone of God's Ten Commandments," cited in its entirety -- a few typos have been corrected -- (his words will be in blue). My refutation follows.

[subtitle]: They shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. Isaiah 45:16
Catholics love images

We all know Catholics bow down in front of statues and pray. We know how they love to adore the host which is a piece of bread. We know that they like to light candles and pray to the dead like it does some good. We also know that they love relics like a dead monk's head. We also know that they love their other "sacred" images like pictures of a madonna and naked baby Jesus. Finally we know that they think that there is some benefit of having a Jesus hanging on the cross in their homes so they can visualize the object of their worship. Maybe they even think the crucifix is a good luck charm. They will vehemently tell you they don't worship the images but I've seen pictures of the pope bowing down to Mary.

The Bible says don't even make images

What doth the Bible say about worshipping images? It says much my friends but today we are looking specifically at the Ten Commandments found in Exodus chapter 20. Most of us know that the Ten Commandments prohibit even making images. This poses a problem for the Catholic religion. How does it get around this?

[This discussion on images and the communion of saints and proper worship is quite involved. I have dealt with it in several places. See many papers on the following two pages:

Communion of Saints
The Eucharist and the Sacrifice of the Mass
Dialogue With Tim Gallant on Whether the Mass is Similar to Jeroboam's Idolatry
Exposition on the Veneration of Images, Iconoclasm, and Idolatry

Presently, I am concerned solely with the false charge that there is some nefarious, "wicked" conspiracy in the Catholic Church to deliberately and "deceitful{ly}" change the Commandments, so as to keep its duped, pitiable followers in lamentable "spiritual darkness" and "ignorance of the truth" -- see Eric's melodramatic but quixotic language below]

Even their own Bibles have something that approximates the commandment to not make images, but since the leadership tells their parishioners otherwise, the people are kept in ignorance of the truth. Therefore, they are kept in spiritual darkness and do not understand the Bible. The Catholic cadre is not entirely at fault because most Catholics fail to actually read their Bibles, instead believing it sufficient to listen to others and believe what they say the Bible says. And so, to continue to venerate idols, the wicked deceitfully have changed the ten commandments and put them in a book somewhere and post them on a wall and tell the people to memorize them. Of course the people trust their priests And true to the status quo, none of the people question their educated men of God.

How can they delete a commandment and still have ten?

Some man might ask me, "If the Catholic religion deletes a commandment how do they still come up with ten commandments?
Let's compare the Catholic ten commandments to the real ten commandments from the good ol' King James Bible, that pillar of doctrinal truth (God loves the truth, you know). I'll let you take a look first (see if you can figure it out) and then explain...
The Catholic Deception* ["CD"] / The King James Bible ["KJV"]
First Commandment [CD]
I, the LORD, am your God...You shall not have other gods besides me.
First Commandment [KJV]
I am the LORD thy God...Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Second Commandment [CD]
You shall not take the name of the LORD, your God, in vain.
Second Commandment [KJV]
Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them.
Third Commandment [CD]
Remember to keep holy the sabbath day.
Third Commandment [KJV]
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain.
Fourth Commandment [CD]
Honor your father and your mother.
Fourth Commandment [KJV]
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Fifth Commandment [CD]
You shall not kill.
Fifth Commandment [KJV]
Honor thy father and thy mother.
Sixth Commandment [CD]
You shall not commit adultery.
Sixth Commandment [KJV]
Thou shalt not kill.
Seventh Commandment [CD]
You shall not steal.
Seventh Commandment [KJV]
Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Eighth Commandment [CD]
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
Eighth Commandment [KJV]
Thou shalt not steal.
Ninth Commandment [CD]
You shall not covet your neighbor's wife.
Ninth Commandment [KJV]
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Tenth Commandment [CD]
You shall not covet your neighbor's house.
Tenth Commandment [KJV]
Thou shalt not covet.
Did you see it?

The Catholic religion deletes the second commandment and makes the 10th commandment into two. If you follow them all the way down from the second commandment you'll see the Catholic religion is always one ahead of the King James. Finally at the tenth commandment they break it into two and make it the 9th and 10th commandments. What deception! What deceit! What guile! I tell no lies here--just get out the Bible and compare. They even corrupt their own Bible by deleting the 2nd commandment!

You see the reason the Catholic religion killed people with Bibles is 'cause [sic] their deception is just too easy to see in light of God's word. Just a little more mumbo-jumbo gumbo for your consideration...
*taken verbatim from, "Growing in Christian Morality" by Julia Ahlers, Barbara Allaire, and Carl Koch, page 40. It has both nihil obstat and imprimatur which are official declarations that a book or pamphlet is free of Catholic doctrinal error. The authors have used the NRSV--and they've even corrupted the corrupted!

What's worse is that the authors of this book know these commandments are deceitful. Look at what they say:

...These are the Ten Commandments, from Exodus, chapter 20, in the traditional way they are enumerated by Catholics:

Okay! The challenge is now made! The gauntlet has been thrown down! Shall all of us poor papists now run away, cowering, in the face of this overwhelming evidence that we are all dupes of a vast conspiracy to subvert the Ten Commandments? Hardly. I suggest that, next time Eric wants to make a "slam dunk" against the Church, that he do a bit of rudimentary study and "homework" first. I found the following information by simple recourse of a fifteen-minute perusal of my own library. I believe that Eric (again, a theologically-educated man) could have easily discovered the same, with a minimum of effort.
First of all, let's get one thing straight right out of the "starting-gate": the Bible itself does not lay out with precision, the numbering of the Commandments. In fact, it does not do so at all. The set is indeed referred to as "ten" (Ex 34:28, Deut 4:13, 10:4), but the exact numbering is not given in the two slightly different versions of it recorded in the Bible (Ex 20:2-17 and Deut 5:6-21; see also an expanded elaboration of the principles in Ex 34:11-28). This is as true of the King James Version as of any other. Therefore, no one has any license to be dogmatic about the exact numbering and division, based on the Bible alone -- let alone to make a charge of dishonesty and "removal."
This being the case, Christian groups have differed through the centuries, as to numbering. This is no "Catholic conspiracy." Thus, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2nd ed., edited by F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone, Oxford University Press, 1983, "Commandments, The Ten," 318-319), notes:

. . . in the prohibition of covetousness, Ex. classes a man's wife with his other domestic property, whereas Deut. treats her separately.

. . . There is a difference in the enumeration in the different Churches. In the C of E [Church of England] as well as in the Greek and the Reformed (Calvinist and Zwinglian) Churches the prohibitions relating to false worship are reckoned as two, whereas the RC Church and the Lutherans count them as one. Thus the enumeration of the subsequent Commandments differs, e.g., the fourth (Anglican, etc.) Commandment on the sanctification of the Sabbath is reckoned as the third by those following the RC method. The number ten is made up by splitting up the last Commandment forbidding covetousness into two.

So immediately we find that Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism, and the Lutherans (no Catholics, they) are in on the "Romish" conspiracy to subvert the Ten Commandments. That makes Eric's elegant conspiratorialism not quite as simple and straightforward as he makes out. Perhaps he forgot to include Martin Luther in his condemnations. We can forgive this small oversight, as long as he is willing to make a note of it in future versions of his article. We all make mistakes, after all.
The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary (edited by Allen C. Myers, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1987) -- also no organ of the Catholic Church, in its article on the Commandments (p. 993), concurs:

At what points the Decalog is to be divided into precisely ten commandments has long been a matter of disagreement (e.g., some traditions regard v. 2 as the first commandment, combining vv. 3 and 4-6; others take vv. 3-6 as the first and divide v. 17 into two commandments). Debate also focuses on just where to divide the commandments into "two tables" (cf. 32:15; 34:4,28; Deut 4:13) . . .

The Protestant New International Dictionary of the Christian Church (edited by J.D. Douglas, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, rev. ed., 1978, 243) sheds further light on the differences in enumeration:

The Talmudic tradition held that the commandments against idolatry and the forbidding of images formed one long, indivisible unit. Augustine, who was followed by the Roman and Lutheran traditions, accepted this suggestion and found two commandments under the rubric "thou shalt not covet." A further tradition, following the lead of Origen, separated the commandment against images from that against idolatry; this is the view of Calvin and the Reformed tradition.
(cf. #2066 in Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Ah; how the plot thickens now! Or, rather, how many unanswered questions arise! The great St. Augustine: practically the patron saint of all Protestants, now has espoused (and it looks like he actually originated) the great plot to change the Commandments, so as to allow idolatry to flourish in Catholic ranks. Eric's choices here reduce to only a very few:

1. Boot St. Augustine out of the pantheon of Protestant heroes, due to his joining in the "wicked" conspiracy (or at the very least, include him, when making the condemnation).
2. Admit that he started this, but that the theory itself is bogus, and drop the charge altogether.
3. Claim that he was hypnotized by evil "Romish" priests and wrote what he did under compulsion; it wasn't his true view on the subject.

Of course, the same would apply to Martin Luther and Lutherans to this day, which creates even more obviously thorny problems for a Protestant making this (ridiculous) charge. Another absurdity of his analysis derives from the fact that the Orthodox follow the non-Lutheran Protestant enumeration, yet they fully accept veneration of images, just as Catholics do. So they apparently missed the "trick" that the Catholics devised, to hide their devious practices. Luther was against such veneration (in the main), yet followed the Catholic tradition on this score. Go figure.
Thus in his famous Large Catechism (my version is from Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1935), Luther's numbering (like Augustine's before him) is precisely that of the Catholic Church (what Eric calls "The Catholic Deception" above). The relevant section can be found on pages 44-112). The Small Catechism is the same. Both are normative for Lutherans; they are included in the confessional Book of Concord (1580). The First Commandment is written in these works as: "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." The Second Commandment is listed as: "Thous shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain" (pp. 44, 53 of Luther's Large Catechism). Remember, Eric described this numbering as:

What deception! What deceit! What guile! . . . mumbo-jumbo gumbo . . .

Let Eric have his opinion, but let him also include St. Augustine and Martin Luther as recipients of his ire, since the former started this practice, and the latter did not change it. Anti-Catholicism always involves this sort of outrageous double standards and hiding of the full truth of the matter. But I do not charge Eric with "conspiracy"; only with ignorance and prejudice.
Finally, Eric claims that Catholics "deleted" the Commandment about "graven images" and "idols." But this is understood (by Augustine, Luther, and Catholics) as included within the first commandment. It is not excluded at all. There is merely a "shorthand" to remember the first commandment, in the shorter version, just as "Thou shalt not covet" in the non-Lutheran Protestant versions is shorthand for the longer, more explicit biblical version.
There is no subterfuge here at all. Why don't we go back to the 16th-century Catechism of the Council of Trent to prove this (my version is translated by John A. McHugh and Charles J. Callan, published in New York by Joseph F. Wagner; second revised edition, 1923). Part III, the section on "The Decalogue," runs from pages 357-477. On page 366 "The First Commandment" is written out in a very long form (even longer than Eric's claim for the KJV): it covers the entirety of Exodus 20:2-6. This is quite strange if the Council of Trent was in on this conspiracy to keep the Catholic unwashed, ignorant masses ignorant of the basic theology of monotheism and prohibition of idolatry. Didn't they know that the Catholic Church was supposed to "kill people with Bibles"? This great Catechism explains the rationale for the numbering of the Catholic First Commandment:

Some, supposing these words which come next in order to constitute a distinct precept, reduce the ninth and tenth Commandments to one. St. Augustine, on the contrary, considering the last two to be distinct Commandments, makes the words just quoted [Ex 20:4-5a, or the non-Lutheran Protestant 2nd Commandment] a part of the First Commandment [Super Exod. quaest. 71, and in Ps. xxxii, serm. ii]. His division is much approved in the Church, and hence we willingly adopt it. Furthermore, a very good reason for this arrangement at once suggests itself. It was fitting that to the first Commandment should be added the rewards or punishments entailed by each one of the Commandments.
(p. 373)

Augustine's (and the Catholic) outlook is not quite the reason that Eric would have us believe (deceit, deception, etc.) . . .
Likewise, the recent Catechism of the Catholic Church, in listing the First Commandment (#2083; cf. #2128-2132) incorporates Exodus 20:2-5a (including the "graven image" material"). So we see that the writers of this hugely influential work are in the dark as to the conspiracy supposedly at play here to suppress one of the Commandments.
We can even go back to St. Thomas Aquinas, in the 13th century. His catechism has the long version of the First Commandment [see link to the left and further elaboration by St. Thomas].
Here is an objective look at the differences, without the silly polemics and charges of dishonesty.
The entire theory is ludicrous. This is some of the most ridiculous "reasoning" I've ever seen, even by rock-bottom anti-Catholic standards of "scholarship" and fairness. Perhaps the whole thing is a put-on, though. Maybe I missed the joke . . . If Eric was showing the absurdity of the theory by merely presenting it, he has my apologies, and I will promptly re-write this paper to reflect that reality, immediately upon being informed of it.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-30) vs. Sola Scriptura and James White

This is a continuation of my series of responses to anti-Catholic luminary James White's response to a talk I gave on Sola Scriptura on the radio show, Catholic Answers Live. See:

James White Actually Responds to an Argument of Mine!

James White's Three-Ring Sophistry Circus: His Critique of my Radio Talk on Sola Scriptura

I have decided to provide a lengthy response to White's "rebuttal" of just one of the ten points I presented in that appearance. Remember (as I noted before), my talk was a mere summary. I estimated that I had about three minutes to elaborate upon each point, due to radio time constraints. So this was no in-depth analysis (which the extremely multi-faceted and complex topic of sola Scriptura ultimately demands). It doesn't follow, however, that I am unable to provide a much more in-depth treatment of the topic.

White, after dodging my critiques of his work for nine years now, seized upon this great "opportunity" of my introductory talk on the radio to pretend, on his Dividing Line webcast, that I have "no clue" what I am talking about and "not a bit of substance" (his stock "responses" and insults where I am concerned). In his eyes, I am a complete ignoramus, a pretender, and utterly over my head in this discussion. White was trying to turn this into a half-baked "oral debate" and (as always, as with all his Catholic opponents) to embarrass me as a simpleton and lightweight apologist. We know he thinks this, because he made a statement like the following on his second show:

The problem, of course, is that this is, quite seriously, one of the things I've said about Mr. Armstrong and about many Catholic apologists, from the very beginning. They don't do exegesis, and they don't know how to. Um, of course, I could argue that they're not allowed to.

Be that as it may, for my part, I replied that I have dealt with most or all these points (agree or disagree) in lengthy papers elsewhere, which he is most welcome to attempt to refute as he pleases. This one point is no exception. Here is the material upon which I based my radio presentation (I added just a little on the air, but rather than do more tedious transcription, I will cite the original "notes" -- between single lines: -------):

In the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-30), we see Peter and James speaking with authority. This Council makes an authoritative pronouncement (citing the Holy Spirit) which was binding on all Christians:

Acts 15:28-29: For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.

In the next chapter, we read that Paul, Timothy, and Silas were traveling around "through the cities," and Scripture says that:

. . . they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached
by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. (Acts 16:4)
This is Church authority. They simply proclaimed the decree as true and binding -- with the sanction of the Holy Spirit Himself! Thus we see in the Bible aninstance of the gift of infallibility that the Catholic Church claims for itself when it assembles in a council.

That's it! Obviously, this is a bare-bones summary of one argument, that can be greatly expanded, with many aspects and facets of it examined. Also, it is important to note that I was writing a refutation of sola Scriptura, not an apologia for the full authority of the Catholic Church, and papal infallibility, etc. The two things are logically and categorically distinct. One could easily reject sola Scriptura without accepting the authority of Rome and the pope. Many Christians, in fact, do this: e.g., Anglicans and Orthodox. The subject at hand is "whether sola Scriptura is the true rule of faith, and what the Bible can inform us about that." I made a biblical argument that does not support sola Scriptura at all (quite the contrary). But White, using his usual illogical, wrongheaded, and sophistical techniques, which he has honed to perfection, tried to cleverly switch the topic over to Catholic ecclesiology.

Beyond that, he also foolishly (but typically) implied that my intent in this argument was some silly notion that I thought I had demonstrated all that (Catholic ecclesiology, the papacy and magisterium, etc.) by recourse to this reasoning. This is part of his opinion that I am so stupid that I am unaware of such elementary logical considerations. Vastly underestimating one's opponent makes for lousy debates and embarrassing "come-uppances" when the opponent proceeds to demonstrate that he is not nearly as much of a dunce and clueless imbecile as was made out. The Democrats have used this tactic for years in politics. It is disconcerting to see anti-Catholic Baptists follow their illegitimate model in theological discourse.

He is way ahead of the game, of course, and this is a straw man, since I believe no such thing at all. Sola Scriptura means something. It has a well-established definition among Protestant scholars. In the next excerpt, we will see it defined by the well-known, influential Reformed Presbyterian R.C. Sproul. The question at hand is whether sola Scriptura is indicated in the Bible. I gave ten reasons in my talk which suggest that it is not. This particular case, in fact, offers not only non-support, but also direct counter-evidence.

This argument concerhning the Jerusalem Council was used in expanded form in my just-released book, The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants. Here is that portion of the book, in its entirety (between the double lines: ========):



Acts 15:28-29: “For it has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell.”

Acts 16:4:
“As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.”
These passages offer a proof that the early Church held to a notion of the infallibility of Church councils, and to a belief that they were especially guided by the Holy Spirit (precisely as in Catholic Church doctrine concerning ecumenical councils). Accordingly, Paul takes the message of the conciliar decree with him on his evangelistic journeys and preaches it to the people. The Church had real authority; it was binding and infallible.

This is a far cry from the Protestant principle of sola Scriptura -- which presumes that councils and popes can err, and thus need to be corrected by Scripture. Popular writer and radio expositor R.C. Sproul expresses the standard evangelical Protestant viewpoint on Christian authority:

For the Reformers no church council, synod, classical theologian, or early church father is regarded as infallible. All are open to correction and critique . . .

(in Boice, 109)
Arguably, this point of view derives from Martin Luther’s stance at the Diet of Worms in 1521 (which might be construed as the formal beginning of the formal principle of authority in Protestantism: sola Scriptura). Luther passionately proclaimed:

Unless I am convicted by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other – my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything, for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe. God help me, Amen. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise.

(in Bainton, 144)
One Protestant reply to these biblical passages might be to say that since this Council of Jerusalem referred to in Acts consisted of apostles, and since an apostle proclaimed the decree, both possessed a binding authority which was later lost (as Protestants accept apostolic authority as much as Catholics do). Furthermore, the incidents were recorded in inspired, infallible Scripture. They could argue that none of this is true of later Catholic councils; therefore, the attempted analogy is null and void.

But this is a bit simplistic, since Scripture is our model for everything, including Church government, and all parties appeal to it for their own views. If Scripture teaches that a council of the Church is authoritative and binding, then it is implausible and unreasonable to assert that no future council can be so simply because it is not conducted by apostles.

Scripture is our model for doctrine and practice (nearly all Christians agree on this). The Bible doesn’t exist in an historical vacuum, but has import for the day-to-day life of the Church and Christians for all time. St. Paul told us to imitate him (see, e.g., 2 Thess. 3:9). And he went around proclaiming decrees of the Church. No one was at liberty to disobey these decrees on the grounds of “conscience,” or to declare by “private judgment” that they were in error (per Luther).

It would be foolish to argue that how the apostles conducted the governance of the Church has no relation whatsoever to how later Christians engage in the same task. It would seem rather obvious that Holy Scripture assumes that the model of holy people (patriarchs, prophets, and apostles alike) is to be followed by Christians. This is the point behind entire chapters, such as (notably) Hebrews 11.

When the biblical model agrees with their theology, Protestants are all too enthusiastic to press their case by using Scriptural examples. The binding authority of the Church was present here, and there is no indication whatever that anyone was ever allowed to dissent from it. That is the fundamental question. Catholics wholeheartedly agree that no new Christian doctrines were handed down after the apostles. Christian doctrine was present in full from the beginning; it has only organically developed since.

John Calvin has a field day running down the Catholic Church in his commentary for Acts 15:28. It is clear that he is uncomfortable with this verse and must somehow explain it in Protestant terms. But he is not at all unanswerable. The fact remains that the decree was made, and it was binding. It will not do (in an attempt to undercut ecclesial authority) to proclaim that this particular instance was isolated. For such a judgment rests on Calvin’s own completely arbitrary authority (which he claims but cannot prove). Calvin merely states his position (rather than argue it) in the following passage:

. . . in vain do they go about out of the same to prove that the Church had power given to decree anything contrary to the word of God. The Pope hath made such laws as seemed best to him, contrary to the word of God, whereby he meant to govern the Church;
This strikes me as somewhat desperate argumentation. First of all, Catholics never have argued that the pope has any power to make decrees contrary to the Bible (making Calvin’s slanderous charge a straw man). Calvin goes on to use vivid language, intended to resonate with already strong emotions and ignorance of Catholic theology. It’s an old lawyer’s tactic: when one has no case, attempt to caricature the opponent, obfuscate, and appeal to emotions rather than reason.

Far more sensible and objective are the comments on Acts 15:28 and 16:4 from the Presbyterian scholar, Albert Barnes, in his famous Barnes' Notes commentary:

For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost. This is a strong and undoubted claim to inspiration. It was with special reference to the organization of the church that the Holy Spirit had been promised to them by the Lord Jesus, Matthew 18:18-20; John 14:26.

In this instance it was the decision of the council in a case submitted to it; and implied an obligation on the Christians to submit to that decision.

Barnes actually acknowledges that the passage has some implication for ecclesiology in general. It is remarkable, on the other hand, that Calvin seems concerned about the possibility of a group of Christians (in this case, a council) being led by the Holy Spirit to achieve a true doctrinal decree, whereas he has no problem with the idea that individuals can achieve such certainty:

. . . of the promises which they are wont to allege, many were given not less to private believers than to the whole Church [cites Mt 28:20, Jn 14:16-17] . . . we are not to give permission to the adversaries of Christ to defend a bad cause, by wresting Scripture from its proper meaning.

(Institutes, IV, 8, 11)
But it will be objected, that whatever is attributed in part to any of the saints, belongs in complete fulness to the Church. Although there is some semblance of truth in this, I deny that it is true.

(Institutes, IV, 8, 12)
Calvin believes that Scripture is self-authenticating. I appeal, then, to the reader to judge the above passages. Do they seem to support the notion of an infallible Church council (apart from the question of whether the Catholic Church, headed by the pope, is that Church)? Do Calvin’s arguments succeed? For Catholics, the import of Acts 15:28 is clear and undeniable.


Bainton, Roland H., Here I Stand, New York: Mentor Books, 1950.

Barnes, Albert [Presbyterian], Barnes’ Notes on the New Testament, 1872; reprinted by Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI), 1983. Available online.

Boice, James Montgomery, editor, The Foundation of Biblical Authority, Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1978, chapter four by R.C. Sproul: "Sola Scriptura: Crucial to Evangelicalism."

Calvin, John, Calvin's Commentaries, 22 volumes, translated and edited by John Owen; originally printed for the Calvin Translation Society, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1853; reprinted by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI: 1979. Available online.

Calvin, John, Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by Henry Beveridge for the Calvin Translation Society, 1845 from the 1559 edition in Latin; reprinted by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI), 1995. Available online.


Now let's examine White's reply to my argument on his Dividing Line webcast, and see if it can stand up under scrutiny. Let's see how cogent and biblical it is, and how well the good, exceedingly-wise Bishop White can survive (what he calls a) "cross-examination" (he, of course, claims that I would utterly wilt under his sublime, brilliant questioning, which is supposedly why I refuse to debate him orally). I have given my argument in summary, in depth; I've responded to some historic Protestant objections to it; the argument is in print in a published book from a reputable Catholic publisher: Sophia Institute Press) and now I will counter-reply to White's own sophistical commentary. Whether he wants to respond back, or flee for the hills as he almost always has before, for nine years, when I critique him, remains to be seen. Let his followers closely note his actions now, if they think he is so invulnerable and unable to be "vanquished."

[White's words below will be in blue. I am directly citing his words from the Dividing Line webcast of 8-31-04]:

[start from the time: 23:00. This portion ends at 25:00]

Hello, Mr. Armstrong! Acts 15, apostles are there; the Holy Spirit is speaking; the New Testament's being written; hellooo! This is a period of inscripturation, and revelation! The only way to make that relevant is to say, "you still have apostles and still receive revelation," but you all believe the canon's closed, so that doesn't work. This isn't some extrabiblical tradition! This is the tradition of the Bible itself! It's revelation! Uh, again, see why, as long as you don't allow anyone to cross-examine you; remember Proverbs 18. The first one to present his case always seems right, until his opponent comes along and questions him. That's what live debate allows to take place. [mocking, derisive, condescending tone throughout]

This is White's entire answer. On the next Dividing Line of 9-2-04, which I just listened to live, he also added a few brief comments about the same argument:

. . . [the Jerusalem Council is binding] "as a part of Scripture."

"The Church does have authority; not infallible authority."

Now let's see how this stands up, when analyzed closely. I shall respond to each statement in turn:

Hello, Mr. Armstrong!

Hello, Your Eminence, the Right Reverend Bishop Dr. James R. White, Th.D.!

apostles are there

So what? How does that change anything? Are not apostles models for us? Of course, they are. St. Paul tells us repeatedly to imitate him (1 Cor 4:16, Phil 3:17, 2 Thess 3:7-9). White would have us believe that since this is the apostolic period and so forth, it is completely unique, and any application of the known events of that time to our own is "irrelevant." He acts as if the record of the Book of Acts has no historical, pedagogical import other than as a specimen of early Christian history, as if it is a piece of mere archaeology, rather than the living Word of God, which is (to use one of Protestants' favorite verses) "profitable for teaching . . . and for training in righteousness" (2 Tim 3:16-17). So now the historical passages of the New Testament are "irrelevant"? Only the straight-out doctrinal teaching can be used to ascertain correct doctrine? If so, then where is that taught in Scripture itself, etc.? Passages like Hebrews 11, which recount the deeds of great saints and biblical heroes, imply that they are a model for us.

White's viewpoint as to the implications of the Jerusalem Council is theologically and spiritually naive or simplistic because it would force us to accept recorded, inspired apostolic teaching about the Church and ecclesiology (whatever it is), yet overlook and ignore the very application of that doctrine to real life, that the apostles lived out in that real life. We would have to believe that this council in Jerusalem had nothing whatsoever to do with later governance of the Church, even though apostles were involved in it. That, in effect, would be to believe that we are smarter and more knowledgeable about Christian theology than the apostles were. They set out and governed the Church, yet they were dead-wrong, or else what they did has no bearing whatsoever on later Christian ecclesiology. Since this is clearly absurd, White's view that goes along with it, collapses.

Moreover, this is a foolish approach because it would require us to believe that Paul and other apostles were in error with regard to how Christian or Church authority works. The preached a certain thing in this instance. If they believed in sola Scriptura (as models for us), then they would have taught what they knew to be Scripture (in those days, the Old Testament), and that alone, as binding and authoritative (for this is what sola Scriptura holds). If they didn't understand authority in the way that God desired, how could they be our models? And if the very apostles who wrote Scripture didn't understand it, and applied it incorrectly in such an important matter, how can we be expected to, from that same Scripture? A stream can't rise above its source.

Lastly, White implicitly assumes here, as he often does, that everything the apostles taught was later doctrinally recorded in Scripture. This is his hidden premise (or it follows from his reasoning, whether he is aware of it or not). But this is a completely arbitrary assumption. Protestants have to believe something akin to this notion, because of their aversion to authoritative, binding tradition, but the notion itself is unbiblical. They agree that what apostles taught was binding, but they fail to see that some of that teaching would be "extrabiblical" (i.e., not recorded in Scripture). The Bible itself, however, teaches us that there are such teachings and deeds not recorded in it (Jn 20:30, 21:25, Acts 1:2-3, Lk 24:15-16,25-27). The logic is simple (at least when laid out for all to see):

1. Apostles' teaching was authoritative and binding.
2. Some of that teaching was recorded in Scripture, but some was not.
3. The folks who heard their teaching were bound to it whether it was later "inscripturated" or not.
4. Therefore, early Christians were bound to "unbiblical" teachings or those not known to be "biblical" (as the Bible would not yet be canonized until more than three centuries later).
5. If they were so bound, it stands to reason that we could and should be, also.
6. Scripture itself does not rule out the presence of an authoritative oral tradition, not recorded in words. Paul refers more than once to a non-written tradition (e.g., 2 Tim 1:13-14, 2:2).
7. Scripture informs us that much more was taught by Jesus and apostles than what is recorded in it.
8. Scripture nowhere teaches that it is the sole rule of faith or that what is recorded in it about early Church history has no relevance to later Christians because this was the apostolic or "inscripturation" period. Those are all arbitrary, unbiblical traditions of men.

One could go on and on about the falsehood of White's opinion here. His view is simply wrongheaded and not required by the Bible at all. It is an unsubstantiated, unbiblical tradition within Protestantism, that has to exist in order to bolster up the ragged edges of another thoroughly unbiblical tradition: sola Scriptura. As the latter cannot be proven at all from Scripture, it, and all the "supports" for it such as this one, are all logically circular.

. . . the Holy Spirit is speaking . . .

Exactly! This is my point, and what makes the argument such a strong one. Here we have in Scripture itself a clear example of a Church council which was guided by the Holy Spirit. That is our example. It happened. White can go on and on about how these were apostles, but the apostles had successors. We know from Scripture itself that bishops were considered the successors of the apostles.

There was to be a certain ecclesiology. The New Testament speaks of this in relatively undeveloped ways (just as it speaks of fine points of Christology and trinitarianism in an undeveloped sense, which was developed by the Church for hundreds of years afterwards).

If the Holy Spirit could speak to a council then, He can now. Why should it change? This doesn't require belief in ongoing revelation. That is another issue. The disciples were clearly told by our Lord Jesus (at the Last Supper) that the Holy Spirit would "teach you all things" (Jn 14:26) and "guide you into all truth" (Jn 16:13). This can be understood either as referring to individuals alone, in a corporate sense, or both. If it is corporate, then it could apply to a church council. And in fact, we see exactly that in the Jerusalem Council, after Jesus' Resurrection and Ascension.

Of course, if white wants to assert that the Holy Spirit can't speak any more, after the apostolic age and the age of revelation, that is up to him, but that is equally unbiblical and unnecessary. He can give us non biblical proof that this is the case, anymore than some Protestants (perhaps white himself) are "cessationists," who believe that miracles and the spiritual; gifts ceased with the apostles also.

. . . the New Testament's being written . . . This is a period of inscripturation and revelation!

So what? What does that have to do with how these early Christians regarded authority and how they believed that councils were binding? Where in the Bible does it say that this period is absolutely unique because the Bible was being written during it? The inspired Bible either has examples of historical events in it which are models for us, or it doesn't. If it does, White's case collapses again. If it doesn't, I need to hear why someone would think that, based on the Bible itself, which doesn't even list its own books, let alone teach us that we can't determine how the Church was to be governed by observing how the first Christians did it .

The only way to make that relevant is to say, "you still have apostles and still receive revelation" . . .

On what basis is this said? I don't see this in the Bible anywhere. Why do we have to still have apostles around in order to follow their example, as we are commanded to do? What does the ending of revelation have to do with that, either? Therefore, it is (strictly-speaking) an "extrabiblical tradition." If so, then it is inadmissible (in the sense of being binding) according to the doctrine of sola Scriptura. If that is the case, then I am under no obligation to accept it; it is merely white's arbitrary opinion. Nor is White himself. He contradicts himself, and this is a self-defeating scenario, involving the following self-contradiction:

In upholding the principle which holds only biblical teachings as infallible and binding, I must appeal to an extrabiblical teaching.

This is utterly incoherent, inconsistent reasoning, and must, therefore, be rejected.

You all believe the canon's closed, so that doesn't work.

The question of the canon is irrelevant to this matter as well. Protestants and Catholics agree as to the New Testament books. So what is found in the New Testament is inspired, inerrant, and infallible. That's why I cite it to make my arguments about ecclesiology and the rule of faith, just like I defend any other teaching I believe as a Catholic.

This isn't some extrabiblical tradition! It's the tradition of the Bible itself! It's revelation!

Bingo! Why does he think I used it in the first place?! Exactly!!! Dr. White thus nails the lid on the coffin of his own "case" shut and covers it with a foot of concrete. This "tradition of the Bible" in Acts 15 and 16 teaches something about the binding authority of church councils, and it is not what sola Scriptura holds (which is the very opposite, of course). Case closed. White can grapple with this portion of what all agree is inspired revelation all he wants, and offer pat answers and insufficiently grounded, circular reasoning all he likes; that doesn't change the fact.

Then White stated that the Council is binding "as a part of Scripture."

This is equally wrongheaded and off the mark. It was binding, period, because it was a council of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit (a fact expressly stated by inspired Scripture itself). It would have been binding on Christians if there had never been a New Testament (and at that time there was not yet one anyway). Whether this was recorded later in Scripture or not is irrelevant. If Dr. White disagrees, then let him produce a statement in the New Testament which teaches us what he claims: that it was only binding because it later was recorded in Scripture. If he can't, then why should we believe him? I am the one arguing strictly from Scripture and what it reveals to us; he is not. He has to fall back on his own arbitrary opinions: mere extrabiblical traditions of men.

Of course, the Church later acts in precisely the same way in its ecumenical councils, declaring such things as that those who deny the Holy Trinity are outside Christianity and the Church, or that those who deny grace alone (Pelagians) are, etc. They make authoritative proclamations, and they are binding on all Christians. The Bible and St. Paul taught that true Christian councils were binding, but Martin Luther, James White, and most Protestants deny this. I will follow the Bible and the apostles, if that must be the choice, thank you.

The Church does have authority; not infallible authority.

Sorry to disagree again, but again, that is not what the Bible taught in this instance. Here the Church had infallible authority in council, and was led by the Holy Spirit. This is clearly taught in the Bible. Period. End of discussion. I think White senses the power of this argument, which is why he tried to blithely, cavalierly dismiss it, with scarcely any discussion (an old lawyer's trick, to try to fool onlookers who don't know any better). Knowing that, he has to use the "this is the period of inscripturation and the apostles" argument, but that doesn't fly, and is not rooted in the Bible, as shown. We are shown here what authority the Church has. If White doesn't like it, let him produce an express statement in the Bible, informing us that the Church is fallible. One tires of these games and this sort of "theological subterfuge," where the person who claims to be uniquely following the Bible, and it alone, invents nonsense out of whole cloth, when directly confronted with portions of that same Bible that don't fit into their preconceived theology and arbitrary traditions of men. Our Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul dealt with this in their time. Sadly, we continue to today.

Addendum: Dividing Line of 9-2-04

This was more of the same silliness, with even less solid reply. It was remarkable (even by White's low standards) in its sustained juvenile, giggly mocking of Catholics, especially as White sat and listened to the advertising on the Catholic Answers Live show. I found this to be a rather blatant demonstration of the prejudiced mindset and mentality of the anti-Catholic. But as I have known of this tendency in the good bishop for many years, it came as no surprise at all. He started out with the obligatory digs at me:

[dersive laughter throughout]

Dave's just playin' along with the game; you know what I mean?
How can you self-destruct two times on your own blog?
. . . I feel sorry for old Dave . . .
We didn't have a postal debate . . . absolute pure desperation . . .

White even went after Cardinal Newman later on:

[Newmanian development of doctrine is a] convenient means of abandoning the historical field of battle.
He went on to state that this involves a "nebulous" notion of doctrine whereby it can be molded and transmutated into almost anything, no matter how it relates to what went before. Of course, this is a complete distortion of Newman's teaching (which is an organic, continuous development of something which remains itself all along, like a biological organism), and shows profound ignorance of it by Dr. White, but that is another topic. Those who are familiar with Newman's thought will see how bankrupt this "analysis" is. But this comes straight from the 19th-century Anglican anti-Catholic controversialist George Salmon (it is almost a direct quote from him). Nothing new under the sun . . .

I hope readers have enjoyed another installment of my writing which has, of course, no substance whatsoever, and where I exhibit yet again my marked characteristic of not having a clue concerning that of which I write. And I'm sure you will enjoy White's lengthy written reply, too (just don't hold your breath waiting for that, please!).