Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Possible References to the Deuterocanon (aka "Apocrypha") in Romans (RSV)

Derived from pp. 800-804 of the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament, 27th edition (Novum Testamentum: Graece et Latine, published by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; see the web page from Catholic apologist Jimmy Akin, which reproduced the list. I have also added my own suggested comparisons and possible parallels; these will be reproduced in green (NT); otherwise NT passages listed in Nestle-Aland will be in blue, and Deuterocanonical passages in red. Alleged references listed by verse only at the end were deemed (by myself) dissimilar and questionable or non-convincing enough to not reproduce.

[Bible passages were retrieved from the RSV Bible, with Apocrypha, from the University of Virginia Electronic Text Center]


1a) Romans 1:19-32

19: For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.
20: Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21: for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.
22: Claiming to be wise, they became fools,
23: and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
24: Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,
25: because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.
26: For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural,
27: and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
28: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct.
29: They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips,
30: slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,
31: foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32: Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

1b) Wisdom 13:1-10, 14:8-31

13

1: For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works;
2: but they supposed that either fire or wind or swift air, or the circle of the stars, or turbulent water, or the luminaries of heaven were the gods that rule the world.
3: If through delight in the beauty of these things men assumed them to be gods, let them know how much better than these is their Lord, for the author of beauty created them.
4: And if men were amazed at their power and working, let them perceive from them how much more powerful is he who formed them.
5: For from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator.
6: Yet these men are little to be blamed, for perhaps they go astray while seeking God and desiring to find him.
7: For as they live among his works they keep searching, and they trust in what they see, because the things that are seen are beautiful.
8: Yet again, not even they are to be excused;
9: for if they had the power to know so much that they could investigate the world, how did they fail to find sooner the Lord of these things?
10: But miserable, with their hopes set on dead things, are the men who give the name "gods" to the works of men's hands, gold and silver fashioned with skill, and likenesses of animals, or a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand.

14

8: But the idol made with hands is accursed, and so is he who made it; because he did the work, and the perishable thing was named a god.
9: For equally hateful to God are the ungodly man and his ungodliness,
10: for what was done will be punished together with him who did it.
11: Therefore there will be a visitation also upon the heathen idols, because, though part of what God created, they became an abomination, and became traps for the souls of men and a snare to the feet of the foolish.
12: For the idea of making idols was the beginning of fornication, and the invention of them was the corruption of life,
13: for neither have they existed from the beginning nor will they exist for ever.
14: For through the vanity of men they entered the world, and therefore their speedy end has been planned.
15: For a father, consumed with grief at an untimely bereavement, made an image of his child, who had been suddenly taken from him; and he now honored as a god what was once a dead human being, and handed on to his dependents secret rites and initiations.
16: Then the ungodly custom, grown strong with time, was kept as a law, and at the command of monarchs graven images were worshiped.
17: When men could not honor monarchs in their presence, since they lived at a distance, they imagined their appearance far away, and made a visible image of the king whom they honored, so that by their zeal they might flatter the absent one as though present.
18: Then the ambition of the craftsman impelled even those who did not know the king to intensify their worship.
19: For he, perhaps wishing to please his ruler, skilfully forced the likeness to take more beautiful form,
20: and the multitude, attracted by the charm of his work, now regarded as an object of worship the one whom shortly before they had honored as a man.
21: And this became a hidden trap for mankind, because men, in bondage to misfortune or to royal authority, bestowed on objects of stone or wood the name that ought not to be shared.
22: Afterward it was not enough for them to err about the knowledge of God, but they live in great strife due to ignorance, and they call such great evils peace.
23: For whether they kill children in their initiations, or celebrate secret mysteries, or hold frenzied revels with strange customs,
24: they no longer keep either their lives or their marriages pure, but they either treacherously kill one another, or grieve one another by adultery,
25: and all is a raging riot of blood and murder, theft and deceit, corruption, faithlessness, tumult, perjury,
26: confusion over what is good, forgetfulness of favors, pollution of souls, sex perversion, disorder in marriage, adultery, and debauchery.
27: For the worship of idols not to be named is the beginning and cause and end of every evil.
28: For their worshipers either rave in exultation, or prophesy lies, or live unrighteously, or readily commit perjury;
29: for because they trust in lifeless idols they swear wicked oaths and expect to suffer no harm. 30: But just penalties will overtake them on two counts: because they thought wickedly of God in devoting themselves to idols, and because in deceit they swore unrighteously through contempt for holiness.
31: For it is not the power of the things by which men swear, but the just penalty for those who sin, that always pursues the transgression of the unrighteous.

[see also the rest of chapters 13 and 14, and chapter 15]

2a) Romans 1:20, 1:21

Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened.

2b) Wisdom 13:1

For all men who were ignorant of God were foolish by nature; and they were unable from the good things that are seen to know him who exists, nor did they recognize the craftsman while paying heed to his works;

3a) Romans 1:23

and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

3b) Wisdom 11:15

In return for their foolish and wicked thoughts, which led them astray to worship irrational serpents and worthless animals, thou didst send upon them a multitude of irrational creatures to punish them,

3c) Wisdom 12:24

For they went far astray on the paths of error, accepting as gods those animals which even their enemies despised; they were deceived like foolish babes.

4a) Romans 2:4

Or do you presume upon the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not know that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

4b) 2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow about his promise as some count slowness, but is forbearing toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

4c) Acts 17:30

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all men everywhere to repent,

4d) Wisdom 11:23

But thou art merciful to all, for thou canst do all things, and thou dost overlook men's sins, that they may repent.

5a) Romans 2:11

For God shows no partiality.

5b) Sirach 35:12

Do not offer him a bribe, for he will not accept it; and do not trust to an unrighteous sacrifice; for the Lord is the judge, and with him is no partiality.

6a) Romans 2:15

They show that what the law requires is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or perhaps excuse them

6b) Wisdom 17:11

For wickedness is a cowardly thing, condemned by its own testimony; distressed by conscience, it has always exaggerated the difficulties.

7a) Romans 4:13

The promise to Abraham and his descendants, that they should inherit the world, did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.

7b) Sirach 44:21

Therefore the Lord assured him by an oath that the nations would be blessed through his posterity; that he would multiply him like the dust of the earth, and exalt his posterity like the stars, and cause them to inherit from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.

8a) Romans 4:17

as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations" -- in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

8b) Sirach 44:19

Abraham was the great father of a multitude of nations, and no one has been found like him in glory;

9a) Romans 5:5

and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.

9b) Sirach 18:11

Therefore the Lord is patient with them and pours out his mercy upon them.

10a) Romans 5:12

Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned --

10b) Wisdom 2:24

but through the devil's envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.

11a) Romans 9:4

They are Israelites, and to them belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;

11b) Sirach 44:12

Their descendants stand by the covenants; their children also, for their sake.

12a) Romans 9:19

You will say to me then, "Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?"

12b) Wisdom 12:12

For who will say, "What hast thou done?" Or will resist thy judgment? Who will accuse thee for the destruction of nations which thou didst make? Or who will come before thee to plead as an advocate for unrighteous men?

13a) Romans 9:21

Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?

13b) Wisdom 15:7

For when a potter kneads the soft earth and laboriously molds each vessel for our service, he fashions out of the same clay both the vessels that serve clean uses and those for contrary uses, making all in like manner; but which shall be the use of each of these the worker in clay decides.

14a) Romans 10:6

But the righteousness based on faith says, Do not say in your heart, "Who will ascend into heaven?" (that is, to bring Christ down)

14b) Baruch 3:29

Who has gone up into heaven, and taken her, and brought her down from the clouds?

15a) Romans 10.7

or "Who will descend into the abyss?" (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

15b) Wisdom 16.13

For thou hast power over life and death; thou dost lead men down to the gates of Hades and back again.

16a) Romans 11:33

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

16b) Wisdom 17:1

Great are thy judgments and hard to describe; therefore unintructed souls have gone astray.

17a) Romans 12:15

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

17b) Sirach 7:34

Do not fail those who weep, but mourn with those who mourn.

18a) Romans 13:1

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

18b) Wisdom 6:3

For your dominion was given you from the Lord, and your sovereignty from the Most High, who will search out your works and inquire into your plans.

19a) Romans 13.10

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

19b) Wisdom 6.18

and love of her is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality,

23a) Romans 15:4

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.

23b) 1 Maccabees 12:9

Therefore, though we have no need of these things, since we have as encouragement the holy books which are in our hands,

See also (from Nestle-Aland list):

Romans 1:28 and 2 Maccabees 6:4

Romans 9:31 and Sirach 27:8 and Wisdom 2:11

Monday, January 10, 2005

It's Greek to Me: An Illuminating Encounter With Eric Svendsen (From the Archives)

From my paper: Response to Protestant Apologists Eric Svendsen's and David T. King's Public Charge of My Alleged "Deceit" and Inability to Debate:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Another lamentable incident on a discussion board reveals certain shortcomings in Dr. Svendsen's dialogical tactics, also. One anti-Catholic slanderer wrote on a large Catholic Discussion Board, in early October 2003:

It is true that I have taken Dave to task in the past for attempting, in his self-admitted near-total ignorance of the Greek language, to correct men who have studied Greek professionally for years as to their analysis of grammatical conventions and figures of speech and so forth, . . .
This is another falsehood that this person has been stating about me for about two years now. I have explained myself more than once, but to no avail. He keeps repeating this incident and putting his cynical slant on it. To hear him describe it, I do sound truly ridiculous and like some sort of arrogant know-it-all. This is based on an actual dispute and ugly Internet exchange, but when one learns all of the facts, they gain an entirely different impression than the one left above. The last time he brought this up I was determined to retrieve the exchange to show people what had happened, but it was too old, and no longer online. The facts are these:

1. I was in a discussion (in January 2002) on this board with Dr. Eric Svendsen about Luke 1:28 and the meaning of kecharitomene ("full of grace" or "highly favored"). It was an argument about Mary's Immaculate Conception (specifically, whether she was sinless). At the same time, I was critiquing some related arguments from Svendsen along the same lines (to which he never responded). That is found in the following paper:

Luke 1:28 (Full of Grace) and the Immaculate Conception: Linguistic and Exegetical Considerations

I cited Greek scholars in favor of the meaning of this phrase here as "completely, perfectly, enduringly endowed with grace." The scholars were Blass and DeBrunner (Greek Grammar of the New Testament, and H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar -- Harvard Univ. Press, 1968). They are cited in footnote number 188 in my book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism (Sophia edition), page 178. Svendsen said that he had heard of Blass and DeBrunner, but not Smyth. He proceeded to minimize Smyth's importance and severely criticized me for trying to argue a point of Greek grammar with him (since he knows Greek).

2. I quickly proved (from extensive Internet searches) that Smyth was a very well-known Greek scholar, whose work is used in many important colleges for Greek courses. Now, the point was that Svendsen had hardly even heard of the guy (if at all) and wanted to pretend he was a nobody. That was shown to be clearly false. But what does that show about Svendsen's attitude and competence in the field of Greek linguistics? When one acts like they know something that they don't know (in this case, concerning the importance of Smyth), isn't that at least pretentious?

3. Svendsen later found out (from James White, I think) that Smyth's Grammar was for classical, not koine, NT Greek. This he thought to be a knockout punch and proof of my ignorance and arrogance, in trying to delve into matters of Greek, where I knew nothing.

4. I publicly apologized to him on the board at that time, for some of my words and attitudes, and for questioning his abilities in Greek.

5. On the other hand, I also pointed out that the whole incident reflected much more badly on him, since (despite claiming to be an expert on Greek) he had mocked this important, well-known, prominent scholar and hadn't even heard of him, and didn't know that his widely-used work (which is even available online now) was for classical Greek in the first place. He was supposed to know this stuff, whereas I (as a non-scholar) had simply made an innocent mistake. And I apologized, whereas he did not.

6. The most amusing thing in all this was that Eric's own research associate, Mike Taylor, was utilizing Smyth in some in-depth exegetical research he was doing concerning the Eucharist. So at the very same time I was being blasted as an ignoramus and pretender for merely citing Smyth, Eric's own comrade was citing him! When I pointed out the incongruity and irony of this to both of them, needless to say I didn't receive the warmest reception in world history.

Proof of Mike Taylor's heavy use of H.W. Smyth, whom he used to support his contentions, can be found in a densely-argued paper about the Eucharist and aspects of Greek grammar, entitled, "Sungenis and Taylor: An Exchange." I have compiled below Mike Taylor's citations of Smyth. Nowhere does he argue that Smyth is 1) unimportant as a Greek grammarian, or, 2) that he is absolutely irrelevant because his grammar is for classical rather than koine Greek.

It's true that he does mention the classical vs. koine Greek distinction, and the implications of that with regard to using Smyth as an authority on the New Testament, but nowhere does he imply that Smyth has no bearing on New Testament grammar at all (let alone that he is a "nobody"). If he believed that, then he would have simply refused to engage the argument (classical Greek being irrelevant to it). He even cites Smyth in support of the interpretation of NT passages (see #3 below). His comrade, Dr. Eric Svendsen, on the other hand, argued both points as proof of my gross incompetence as an apologist, since I had dared to cite Smyth in support of my exegesis of Luke 1:28 [Mike Taylor's words will be in blue]:

1) I tracked down one of those grammarians (Smyth) who says no such thing, . . .

2) I looked in Smyth to see if I could find any evidence for your "special case" and simply found no such thing. So if it turns out that you were wrong about Smyth (and you are) then would I be wrong to wonder if you might be wrong about the other grammarians?

3) . . . this really isn't the section of Smyth that is most relevant to the point in question. In the quote above, Smyth himself refers us to section 1872 (p. 419) wherein we read the following: 1872. "Participle (not in indirect discourse).--The participle, as a verbal adjective, is timeless. The tenses of the participle express only continuance, simple occurrence, and completion with permanent result. Whether the action expressed by the participle is antecedent, coincident, or subsequent to that of the leading verb (in any tense) depends on the context." The key words here are the following: "not in indirect discourse," (which would cover both Matthew 26:28 and Luke 22:19f); "in any tense" (which would cover the present indicative main verbs in both Matthew and Luke) and "depends on the context" . . .

4) Here is what Smyth says of the present participle in 1872a . . .

5) We’ve already seen Sungenis’ mishandling of Smyth. Why, then, should we simply take his word for it that Shanz is on his side?

6) But the rule you stated didn't register for me, so I got out Smyth (which was my textbook at Harvard) and Wallace (the current "Bible" of NT grammars) and did some reading.

7) With that in mind, I went back to Smyth a second time to see if I could find any evidence for such a distinction. So far, no luck. Then I went to Zerwick to see what he says.

8) Essentially, Wallace is saying that the time reference for participles is usually determined by the main verb. This accords with what I learned in Greek class and with what I have read in Smyth and Zerwick.

9) Rather than admit that his Smyth quote really does not support his claims, he instead attempts to play off Smyth against Zerwick.

10) I would respectfully suggest that Mr. Sungenis is in no position to judge between the Zerwick and Smyth.

11) Mr. Sungenis’ attempt to pit Smyth against Zerwick is misguided. Mr. Sungenis rightly notes that Smyth claims that participles not in indirect discourse are “timeless.” Unfortunately, Mr. Sungenis neglects to mention the following: “Whether the action expressed by the participle is
antecedent, coincident, or subsequent to that of the leading verb (in any tense) depends on the context” (Smyth: 1872, my emphasis). This is a crucial qualification. Would Zerwick disagree with Smyth on this point?

12) Right away, then, we see that a direct comparison of Smyth to Zerwick is invalid. Smyth’s grammar only deals with classical Greek, whereas Zerwick’s Biblical Greek concerns—you guessed it—Biblical Greek.

13) Second, in full agreement with Smyth, Zerwick states that the context shows the sense to be future.

14) Mr. Sungenis’ case is weakened somewhat by two factors: First, to the extent that he is basing his case on a Smyth, he weakens his case in that Smyth’s scope is classical Greek, not Koine. Second, the rules he had originally quoted from Smyth govern participles in indirect discourse, whereas the participles in question are in direct discourse.

15) There is therefore no fundamental disagreement here with Smyth, who in any case is dealing with classical Greek, not the Biblical Koine and its underlying Semitisms.

16) Does this not suggest that Sungenis was unaware of the fact that the present participle can be future no matter what the tense of the main verb (cf. Smyth 1872, p. 419)?

17) I went back to Smyth a second time to see if I could find any evidence for such a distinction.


Svendsen and I have never interacted in any substantive way since then. My calumnious detractor keeps bringing up this incident in order to "prove" something about me that is untrue. He never mentions, of course, my apology (because that would ruin the effectiveness of the slander; apart from showing that it is highly unethical), and he never gets into the gist of what occurred (because that would make Eric Svendsen look really bad, just as he did at the time). I've repeatedly urged him to drop it and decided not to post the argument at the time (as an act of charity), but since he won't let it drop, and keeps talking about this publicly, I must record the incident now, so it will be a matter of record.

It may seem a minor point, but when the incident is fully-explained, people can see what I was getting at, and that I was justified in my observation; it wasn't a case at all of trying to talk about something (on my own, without the aid of scholars) that I knew nothing about (Greek). If anything, Dr. Svendsen was the one who made statements he knew little or nothing about (about Smyth's credentials and importance).


***

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Latest James White Theme Song: "Fun Fun Fun"

Okay, folks; this is the last of this before moving on to other things. I just couldn't resist doing one more parody. The possibilities here were far too rich and -- given the latest absurdities and surreal charges being thrown about -- my great love of satire rendered me utterly unable to resist (the humor-challenged need not read any further; you have been forewarned!).

Fun Fun Fun

(Beach Boys, 1964)
(Brian Wilson/Mike Love)
See original lyrics

[written to/about Bishop James White]

Well he wrote his latest post
And he's cruisin' through the Cath-o-lic blogs now
Seems he forgot all about the contrary
Cuz he's stuck in a rut now
And with ad hominem blasting
Starts twistin' just as fast as he can now

And he'll have fun fun fun
Now that DA put his keyboard away
(Fun fun fun now that DA put his keyboard away)

Well the Catholics can't stand him
'Cause he writes books that build a straw man now
(distort papist grace now; distort papist grace)
He makes the independent Baptists go fight the Roman Catholic Church now
(he ran the good race now; he ran the good race)
A lotta guys try to argue
But he leads them on a wild goose chase now
(egg on your face now; egg on your face)

And we'll have fun fun fun
Now that DA put his keyboard away
(Fun fun fun now that DA put his keyboard away)

Well you knew it was wrong
And old DA's gotten wise to you now
(You shouldn't-a lied now you shouldn't-a lied)
But since he stopped his set of keys
You've been thinking that DA is all through now
(You shouldn't-a lied now you shouldn't-a lied)

But you can bring along your Chick*
'Cause you've got a lot of things to 'splain now
(You shouldn't-a lied now you shouldn't-a lied)

But we'll have fun fun fun now that DA put his keyboard away
(Dave'll run run run cuz the bishop exegeted away)
Fun fun fun now that DA put his keyboard away
(Dave'll run run run cuz the bishop exegeted away)

[repeat further, with Eric ("I didn't say that!") Svendsen doing the gleeful falsetto fade-out]

* = Jack Chick anti-Catholic "comic" tracts

Saturday, January 01, 2005

James White's Critique (?) of My Book "The Catholic Verses" (?): Part V: White's Befuddlement and My "Knowing Deception"

I know what many of you are thinking (scratching your head and shaking it in amazement): "this nonsense is a critique of Dave's book???!!!" Yes, all of this personal attack is in the midst of a supposed "critique." It is an exercise in intellectual self-destruction. The latest installments are his Quick Thought Regarding DA and Exegesis, where he expresses his confusion and clueless noncomprehension of the replies I have been giving. Here are some highlights:

. . . it seems to be pretty difficult to follow where he's going.

. . . [he] simply assumes the Roman interpretation, ignores the need to do any exegesis at all, and after all that, does not avail himself of counter-exegesis when it is only two pages away from passages he cites in his book . . .

I'm confused as well by the fact that when I mentioned looking for an exegesis of Romans 4:6-8 (which seemingly is not forthcoming: I'm sure I'm not the only one who would like to see Mr. Armstrong's exegesis of the text) in A Biblical Defense of Catholicism he accused me of changing the topic; but now I am told to look there for the positive exegesis of these passages from the Roman Catholic side. Which is it? Sorta hard to figure out, isn't it? Indeed it is.

To which I reply: read my explanations again. It'll come to you if you keep trying. Moving on, the next post White has blessed his readers with, is Armstrong's Reading List, in response to my last post, where I had to prove that I had done some serious reading as a Protestant (!!!). This is an absolute classic gem of White's finely-honed art of personal attack, obfuscation, and sophistry. I shall cite it in its entirety:

Mr. Armstrong has provided a reading list on his blog.

No; I provided a list of books I had read, and which are in my library: heavily-used for research (because White had ridiculously denied that I was well-read as a Protestant).

In essence, this means that instead of blaming ignorance for his very shallow misrepresentations of non-Catholic theology and exegesis, we must now assert knowing deception.

At this point, White has descended into virtual self-parody and high comedy. Having seen that his contention of my "ignorance" was blown out of the water by a simple citation of the books I have read and/or own, he faced a dilemma: the choice was (1) "admit that Armstrong actually knows something about Protestantism, so that I have been lying about him all these years," or (2) "deny that he is telling the truth about his reading and books." He chose (1) (well, the first clause, anyway), and decided to switch to the tactic of accusing me of "knowing deception," so as to "save face" (so he thinks).

So far, DA has been unable to provide even the slightest meaningful defense of his own published statements and their refutation.

No refutation has occurred (White has almost totally ignored the arguments in the book); what need of defense, then? So, mostly I have been clarifying simple logic and facts.

Which is really only marginally relevant to the real issue: hopefully, aside from demonstrating the exegetical bankruptcy of The Catholic Verses, . . .

Can I help it is White continually shows his inability to grasp the very nature and purpose of the book?

. . . answers are being given to all those observing and learning how to speak the truth to those who likewise would handle the Word from the vantage point of tradition rather than allowing it to speak for itself with its own voice.

Failing any logical argument, simply distort the other's belief and assert your own radically circular position . . .

==========================================================

Total words: White: (minus his citation of my words): 492
Total words: Armstrong: 377 (or 77% as many as White's)
Grand Total thus far: White: 4762 / Armstrong: 2001 (or 42% as many as White's words, or White outwriting Armstrong by a 2.38 to one margin)
My percentage of words over against White's, compared to his "average" prediction: 0.04% (2001 actual, compared to a predicted 47,620 / 24 times less)

Note Bishop White's statement on 12-29-04, in commencing this present discussion: "Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall . . . let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage."

Friday, December 31, 2004

James White's Critique of My Book "The Catholic Verses": Part IV: Shots at My Former Protestant Knowledge and Reading

In Part I of Mr. (Bishop) White's three-part treatment of penance (ostensibly a "critique" of my book), he took the following utterly ridiculous potshots at me (in blue):

One other thing to remember before we move to Armstrong's comments. Armstrong is identified as a "Protestant campus missionary" on the back of his book prior to his conversion. I do not know what that involved, but one thing that it probably did not involve was a great deal of study of the Puritans, reading of Edwards, or even of someone like Spurgeon.

Calvinist or Reformed theology is not the whole of Protestantism. It is White's position which is ludicrous, since I have demonstrated that, by his very statements, C.S. Lewis, Philip Melanchthon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, John Wesley, even Martin Luther himself and St. Augustine, could not be Christians at all (according to him, they denied both sola fide and sola gratia)!!! With intellectually-vacant baggage like that (which he has never explained), it is beyond laughable for him to accuse me of ignorance and insufficient former "Protestant" status (as he has before), due to not reading, e.g., the vehemently anti-Catholic Spurgeon (I did, however, have some of his books in my library).

So when we encounter his views of "suffering" in Protestantism, we need to remember that they are not coming from someone who was, in fact, much more than a layperson, and one who has given very little evidence, in fact, of having done a lot of serious reading in better non-Catholic
literature to begin with. In fact, I would imagine Armstrong has done more reading in non-Catholic materials since his conversion than before. In any case, this lack of background will resound loudly in the comments he offers, to which we will turn in part 2.


White merely exhibits here his profound ignorance of my background, and usual condescension. He knows virtually nothing about this (and has forgotten whatever I did tell him). In fact, I read many many good books as a Protestant, including the following by Protestant authors (asterisked writers are Reformed / Calvinist, as far as I recall and know offhand):

Have-Read List:

Bernard Ramm (Baptist), Eastman, Walvoord, Michael Green, R.C. Sproul*, Stott, Van Impe, Hal Lindsey (6), C.S. Lewis (5), Josh McDowell (5), A.W. Tozer, Duane Gish (young earth creationist), Henry Morris (young earth creationist), Francis Schaeffer* (7), Harold Lindsell (2), Os Guinness, Roland Bainton -- leading biographer of Luther (2), LaHaye, A. Skevington Wood (biographer of Wesley), Sider, Franky Schaeffer* (2), Merrill Tenney, James Montgomery Boice*, Neuhaus (when Lutheran), Lorraine Boettner* (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination), Dave Basinger (editor: Predestination and Free Will), Oswald Allis*, George Marsden* (2), J. Gresham Machen*, Howard Snyder, Kierkegaard (Lutheran philosopher) (3), John MacArthur*, J.I. Packer*, Billy Graham, Walter Martin. I also listened to many tapes from Walter Martin, as I was involved in counter-cult research, and a ton of Christian talk radio, went to many many Bible studies and other Christian talks and conferences, etc. I was friends with three Baptist pastors: one of whom was a Reformed Baptist.

These are just people whose books I have read in their entirety (in my Protestant period). I have many many more Protestant books in my library to this day. I may not have read every page of these, but I used them a lot for research, then (1977-1990) and since my conversion (reading very large portions; oftentimes the lion's share of the book):

General:

G.C. Berkouwer* (3), F.F. Bruce (11), D.A. Carson, Gerhard Maier, Ryken, Edersheim (2), R.D. Wilson, Wenham, Arndt, Ladd (2), Albright (biblical archaeologist) (5), Augustus Strong, Charles Hodge*, D. Guthrie, Archer (2), Woodbridge, Jack Rodgers, John Gerstner*, A.A. Hodge*, Warfield*, Dunn, Alford, Westcott, Oswald Chambers, Richard Foster, Reinhold Niebuhr, H. Richard Niebuhr (4), Goodspeed (2), Paul Maier (3), J.B. Lightfoot (5), Peter Berger (6), Os Guinness (3), Enroth (2), Walter Martin (2), Thomas Oden (4), Ankerberg, Billy Graham (4), Dobson (6), Bonhoeffer (13), John Wesley (6 about him), Jonathan Edwards* (two of primary material and one biography), Ronald Nash*, Carl F.H. Henry, R.C. Sproul* (2), LaHaye, Charles Colson* (9), Swindoll, Yancey (3), John Macarthur* (2), J.I. Packer* (2), Sire (2).

Church Historians (emphasizing the 16th century):

J.N.D. Kelly, Roland Bainton (4), Jaroslav Pelikan (4), Philip Schaff (4), Kenneth Scott Latourette (9), Dillenberger (3), Martin Marty (3), Oberman (2), McGrath (2), A.G. Dickens (2), Hillerbrand (2), Harbison (2), Pauck (2), Spitz (2), Henry Chadwick (2), Steinmetz, Rupp, Althaus, Owen Chadwick, Perry Miller (perhaps the leading scholar on Puritanism) and other works about Puritanism (8)

Primary and Secondary "Reformation" Literature:

Martin Luther: 13 volumes from Luther's Works, + 15 more primary works or collections, and 15-20 books about him.
John Calvin: 10 large primary works (Institutes, Letters, Commentaries, etc.), + four biographies.
Melanchthon: two collections of primary writings.
Zwingli/Bullinger: important primary writings.
Anabaptists: important primary writings.
Book of Concord (Lutheran).
Book of Common Prayer (Anglican).

Apologists and Philosophers:

C.S. Lewis (virtually every book by and about him -- my favorite writer --, filling up an entire large bookshelf), Norman Geisler (7), William Lane Craig, J.W. Montgomery (5), Josh McDowell (7), Cornelius Van Til*, Bernard Ramm (3), Alvin Plantinga* (2), J.P. Moreland, Gary Habermas, Kierkegaard (18), Dorothy Sayers (2), Carnell (2), J.N.D. Anderson, Strobel (2).

Scholarly References:

25 or so versions of the Bible, A.T. Robertson (Word Pictures, + one additional), Vine, Vincent (Word Studies), Kittel, Thayer, Gesenius, International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, Nave's Topical Bible, New Bible Dictionary, Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, Eerdmans Bible Commentary, Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary, New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Oden; 3 volumes), Dictionary of Christianity in America (IVP), Strong's and Young's Concordances, NRSV Concordance.

Suffering:

I have these Protestant books in my library concerning suffering (and I read the Lewis, Plantinga, and Silvester books):

The Problem of Pain (C.S. Lewis)
Arguing With God (Hugh Silvester)
God, Freedom, and Evil (Alvin Plantinga)
Theodicy (Leibniz)
Till Armageddon (Billy Graham)
Portraits of Perseverance: 100 Meditations From the Book of Job (Henry Gariepy)
Good Grief (Granger E. Westberg)
A Grief Observed (C.S. Lewis)
A Loving God and a Suffering World (JonTal Murphree)
God on the Witness Stand (Daniel T. Hans)
How to Find Comfort in the Bible (Herbert Lockyer).

My lengthy paper, Christian Replies to the Argument From Evil (Free Will Defense): Is God Malevolent, Weak, or Non-Existent Because of the Existence of Evil and Suffering?, draws heavily on the work of Leibniz, Lewis, and Plantinga.

I think, then, any reasonable person will lay to rest White's asinine assertion that I have shown "very little evidence, in fact, of having done a lot of serious reading in better non-Catholic literature." I don't think this is a bad showing at all for a non-formally-trained layman who has had relatively little money to invest in books through the years (most of these having been obtained used). I may not spout my knowledge of all these writers all the time (like someone else I know, who also talks constantly about his vaunted -- but questionable -- educational credentials), but that doesn't mean I have not incorporated what they taught me into my overall Christian worldview. I owe these writers a tremendous debt and deep gratitude for my formation in Christian theology and apologetics. Who could be anti-Protestant with all these treasures to be had? But White manages to dismiss all the wonderful Catholic literature and scholarship, as of little or no value. My position is that both Christian traditions can learn a great deal from each other, in many ways. Those who take the exclusivistic, tunnel-vision approach greatly impoverish their learning and understanding of the totality of Christianity and the Lord's working on this earth and through salvation history.

=======================================================

I consider this a "footnote" so I won't do the word count thing this time. This (necessary) aside illustrates, however, how difficult it is to reply with less words than one's opponent, when said opponent is lying through his teeth about one. To say that I have shone "very little evidence, in fact, of having done a lot of serious reading in better non-Catholic literature," takes all of 18 words. Lies are like that. How can you disprove this in less than 18 words? To refute the ludicrous charge clearly takes many more words (and effort; I've just blown a few hours). In this case, I had to list the books I read or have partially-read and used for study and research. If White will stop the needless, groundless personal attacks and ignorant stupidities like this, maybe we can get back to his compelling critique that scarcely even interacts at all with what it purportedly critiques! :-)

James White's Critique of My Book "The Catholic Verses": Part III: Massive Ad Hominem Tactics

[White's URL] I reproduce his entire post (in blue):

Interesting Replies

DA has replied to my first comments on his book
[see: previous installment]. They were...predictable. Armstrong says his book is not "primarily" exegetical. Quite true. It is not secondarily exegetical. It is not exegetical in a tertiary manner. It simply isn't exegetical at all.

It does contain some exegesis, but here's the heart of my purpose (from my Introduction):


. . . only rarely do they seriously engage the biblical texts utilized by Catholics to support their positions . . . . critique of common Protestant attempts to ignore, explain away, rationalize, wish away, over-polemicize, minimize, de-emphasize, evade clear consequences of, or special plead with regard to “the Catholic Verses”: 95 biblical passages . . . ultimate incoherence, inadequacy, inconsistency, or exegetical and theological implausibility of the Protestant interpretations . . . (pp. xii-xiv)
But, that's the whole point. The book pretends to "confound" Protestants with biblical passages, remember? I did not choose the title, Mr. Armstrong did.

Technically, I am not trying to "confound" anyone. It is the Bible which gives Protestants difficulty. I'm merely documenting exegetical bankruptcy, confusion, or irrationality.

And the only way to do that is to provide a meaningful interpretation of those passages.

That's logically distinct from critiquing Protestant exegesis. Biblical evidence for Catholicism is dealt with in my first two books.

And unless Mr. Armstrong is willing to just come out and say, "Hey, Rome tells me what these passages mean, I can't even begin to handle the biblical text myself," then some kind of argument is going to have be offered from the text itself.

That is a separate project. Catholic exegetes are no more bound to "official" interpretation of verses than Protestants. See: The Freedom of the Catholic Biblical Exegete.

And what I'm demonstrating is that when most "Dave Armstrong" level RC apologists . . .

Who else would be in this "level"?

quote a passage, they honestly have no idea what the passage is actually saying in its native context. They are eisegetically misusing the text, as I am documenting in regards to Armstrong. And that's the whole point of this exercise.

Why respond to silly, false accusations?

Armstrong also informs us that he doesn't read my books. That's OK. If he wishes to remain ignorant of the exegetical arguments presented against his position, I have no reason to encourage him to do otherwise.

This book is about failed Protestant attempts to refute Catholic biblical prooftexts. White has yet to deal with those.

It is just odd to me that someone would wish to put arguments into print that have already, and recently, been refuted. ignoratio elenchi.

White's arguments are not the sum and essence of Protestant exegesis. He has quite the inflated view of his own importance.

When I invited Armstrong to provide us with a meaningful, contextual examination of Romans 4:6-8, his response was classic:


Why should I go off on White's rabbit trail, after he has systematically ignored my critiques of his material for almost ten years? If he actually tries to interact with some of mine, then he will find me much more willing to go off on tangents of his own choosing. But I won't bow to either (1) a double standard, or (2) diversion tactics to avoid dealing with the topic at hand (which he himself chose, in the present case, oddly enough).
Well, OK. I guess we will be left to wonder if, in fact, Dave Armstrong can exegete that passage or not.

Wonder away. It is off-topic. Period.

Maybe someone else can ask and not get that kind of response.

When it is the topic, sure!

But again, I just state the obvious: the author of A Biblical Defense of Catholicism and The Catholic Verses seems, anyway, by his initial responses, to be exceptionally unwilling to engage in exegesis of the text of Scripture. I don't know, maybe that strikes someone else as odd?

White's continual dense inability (or unwillingness) to offer a logical and coherent critique is what amazes me.

=======================================================

Total words: White: 423
Total words: Armstrong: 271 (or 64% as many as White's)

Grand Total thus far: White: 4270 / Armstrong: 1624 (or 38% as many as White's words, or White outwriting Armstrong by a 2.63 to one margin)

My percentage of words over against White's, compared to his "average" prediction: 0.04% (1624 actual, compared to a predicted 42,700 / 26 times less)

Note Bishop White's statement on 12-29-04, in commencing this present discussion: "Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall . . . let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage."


Thursday, December 30, 2004

James White's Critique of My Book "The Catholic Verses": Part II: Rabbit Trail Diversion

[White's URL] His words will be in blue:

The Protestant Verses: Can Dave Armstrong Exegete This Passage?

I'd like to ask Dave Armstrong to provide a biblically solid, textually grounded, linguistically accurate, contextually sound interpretation of Romans 4:6-8:

Romans 4:6-8 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works: 7 "Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 Blessed is the man to whom the LORD will not impute sin."

I scanned through The Catholic Verses and couldn't find a reference to this passage (I may have missed it);


Obviously, then, it has nothing to do with any argument in my book!

I looked at the Scripture index to A Biblical Defense of Catholicism and it is not listed.

That being another book, it obviously has nothing to do with a critique of my present book, either . . .

I tried googling Armstrong's blog and website, but got no hits on various ways of listing the passage. If Armstrong has already written something that fits this request, I will be glad to look at it upon referral. But, failing that, I would simply ask: "Who is the blessed man of Romans 4:6-8 in Roman Catholic theology?"

Why should I go off on White's rabbit trail, after he has systematically ignored my critiques of his material for almost ten years? If he actually tries to interact with some of mine, then he will find me much more willing to go off on tangents of his own choosing. But I won't bow to either (1) a double standard, or (2) diversion tactics to avoid dealing with the topic at hand (which he himself chose, in the present case, oddly enough).

I would assume Armstrong possesses a copy of The God Who Justifies . . .

He assumes wrongly. I haven't read any of his books. The only ones I even have are those he sent me for free back in 1995 (thanks again, James!), and one (The Roman Catholic Controversy) that I found for a quarter at a used book sale (I'm willing to pay that much for anti-Catholic material; if it was a dollar, though, I would have thought twice).

(though it is not referred to in his new book, which is especially interesting regarding the 24 page chapter on James 2:14-24 that Armstrong neglects in his book),

Again, White strangely assumes that I always have to deal with his arguments, when my purpose was mainly to examine historic Protestant commentary, from major figures in its history (or does White claim to be that?).

but should he not, allow me to reproduce the exegesis I offered of this section. I would be very interested in a response-in-kind from Mr. Armstrong. (Please forgive any formatting issues, the lack of italics, and of the footnotes that are in the original. Please refer to the published work
for those details):


See my third response previous to this one. I am curious why White is suddenly so interested in my opinions, though, since he has always argued (and still in our previous round) that they have no substance whatsoever.

[deleted his entire citation, due to its being off-topic]

My book is about how Protestants rationalize, special plead, avoid, obfuscate, etc. regarding biblical verses which (from our perspective) suggest some distinctive in Catholic theology. White's aim above, on the other hand, is to exegete a passage which he considers a strong proof text for Protestantism. Apples and oranges. Perhaps a future book of mine can be devoted to showing how Protestant proof texts are utterly inadequate and able to be sufficiently refuted from a Catholic point of view and dismissed (sounds like a fun project to me). But that time is not now, in the context of the ongoing critique of my book, and also given White's past utter contempt and ignoring of my arguments. I've always refused to play this game of topic-switching (with White and everyone else). I would do that even if we had the most cordial of relationships and he had answered my past writings and challenges to him. And that is because I maintain strong principles of how to go about a good dialogue properly and in an orderly, constructive fashion.

White, in fact, follows very similar principles himself. In a recent blog post ("Regarding Theological Dialogues") he stated that one must take one's time with serious theological topics, and not rush things. This is very good (nice to agree with White occasionally). Likewise, my principle and determination here is to not go off the previous topic in order to immediately treat some entirely different subject. It has nothing whatsoever to do with the worthiness and importance or value of the particular discussion itself. In fact, I show much respect towards it by maintaining this principle, because I am saying that serious topics ought to be considered one at a time, carefully and deliberately. And that can't be done by rushing off on some rabbit trail, because the opponent thinks he has a slam dunk (while double dribbling and missing all his shots in the present "refutation / dialogue" that he seeks to avoid for the moment with a diversion). So, nice try . . .

======================================================

Total words: White: 2910
Total words: Armstrong: 630 (or 22% as many as White's)

Note White's statement on 12-29-04, in commencing this present discussion: "Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall . . . let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage."

James White's Critique of My Book "The Catholic Verses": Part I: The Binding Authority of Tradition

[White's URL] I reproduce his entire argument (in blue):

The Catholic Verses: 95 Reduced to 91

Dave Armstrong lists four verses that "confound Protestants" under the subtitle of "The Binding Authority of Tradition, According to St. Paul," beginning on page 37 of The Catholic Verses. They are:

1 Corinthians 11:2 Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you.

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us.

2 Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.

There is a tremendous amount of literature on the subject of "tradition" in the New Testament, and a very large portion of it would challenge the rather simplistic assumptions Mr. Armstrong presents in his discussion.


Summary statements are not arguments, nor are derogatory remarks about arguments (especially when the latter are not even adequately presented or cited).

He writes, "Catholics believe that there is such a thing as a binding, authoritative Sacred Tradition and that it is explicitly indicated in the Bible (notably in the above passages)." So, we here have Armstrong wedding himself to these passages as "explicitly" presenting Rome's full-blown (capital "S" capital "T") Sacred Tradition.

That's not my argument. Biblical tradition is not absolutely identical to "Rome's" defined Tridentine Tradition of 1500 years later, just as Chalcedonian trinitarianism is more complex than biblical trinitarianism of only 400 years earlier. Both are entirely consistent with the less-developed biblical theology.

But given the hesitation of many a Roman Catholic scholar, it is quite possible Mr. Armstrong has over-reached himself just a bit.

Correctly-understood, not at all.

The mere presence of the term "tradition" is hardly sufficient to establish the position enunciated by Armstrong.

White clearly doesn't know what my position is. That's rule #1 for any good refutation.

How a Protestant is "confounded" by these passages is difficult to determine, at least, if meaningful exegesis of the text is the standard.

Binding tradition not identical to Scripture is logically contrary to sola Scriptura, the Protestant rule of faith.

And the first thing to note about Armstrong's work at this point should have a rather familiar ring to it if you have been following the Dave Hunt series: there is no meaningful exegesis offered to substantiate these grand claims by Armstrong. Examine pp. 38-40 for yourself, and you will find no discussion of grammar, lexicography, syntax, or anything else relevant to meaningful exegesis.

I make no pretense of being a professional Bible scholar. My book is strictly popular apologetics. But even an amateur exegete like me can (like Balaam's ass) point out lousy, irrelevant "arguments" from "professional" exegetes like John Calvin (a primary purpose of the book). All I contended for here was the existence of binding tradition in Scripture (and the incoherence of Protestant alternatives). White hasn't disproven this at all.

Instead, Armstrong depends upon secondary sources, and even then, the conclusions offered by secondary sources. He quotes Thomas More, but then focuses upon John Calvin, evidently seeking, it seems to me, to prejudice the reader through the use of quotations using language that was common in the day but is considered harsh and even non-Christian today.

I cited Calvin's remarks in his Commentaries (presumably an "exegetical" work) for 1 Corinthians 11:2 and 2 Thessalonians 2:15. If he provided no cogent analysis, but only "harsh" language, that is his (and White's) problem, not mine.

Indeed, one can judge the character of the discussion by noting these telling words: "Be that as it may, it is scarcely possible to discuss that issue constructively, because (in my opinion) Protestants are so afraid that any serious discussion of Tradition will cast doubt on sola Scriptura and lead to undesired 'Catholic' consequences." I'm sorry, but such rhetoric detracts from the work, at least for any serious minded reader.

I simply gave my opinion from much firsthand experience, as an accompanying thought distinct from the argument itself.

Armstrong moves into a dialogue after this that again offers nothing in reference to exegesis of the texts themselves, and in fact has only a marginal connection to the issue of the meaning of "tradition" in the Pauline corpus. How one leaps from para,dosij in Paul to Sacred Tradition as
defined by modern Rome is left unanswered.

How White moves from making no argument and not interacting with mine, to his triumphant conclusion is a mystery to me too. Note his fallacy in the last sentence: I never argued that the biblical para,dosij was the same as fully-developed Catholic Tradition. This is what is known as a "straw man" in logic.

Now what was particularly odd, I thought, is the fact that immediately after this section Armstrong goes into his Matthew 23 discussion (pp. 43-53, arguably his most strenuous effort at what comes closest to what can be identified as textually-based exegesis),

Why is that "odd"? The next section was about "oral and extrabiblical tradition."

which he had sent to me prior to the publication of the book.

. . . which Bishop White (as usual) never replied to. Instead, he offered personal insults and then silence.

He cites my comments from The Roman Catholic Controversy in this section rather extensively. So, I wondered if he would attempt to respond to the exegesis of 2 Thessaloninans 2:15 that I offered in the same work. I would expect that at least the substance of that section would have to be refuted for Armstrong to feel he had at all proven his case.

Why does White in particular have to be refuted to prove my case? The book was mostly about historic Protestant exegesis. Most folks would think Calvin is a bit more important and influential historically than White, so I dealt with him. White dealt in depth with the issue of "Moses' Seat," so I cited him thusly, in that section.

But no effort at all is put forth to respond to the exegesis of the passage provided in TRCC. The fact that this is a present command, that the tradition referred to had already been delivered, in fulness, to the entirety of the church at Thessalonica, is not noted.

If I ever read one of White's books and get in the mood to refute it some day, then I will do exactly that. As it is, this is supposedly a critique of my book, and one doesn't do that simply by complaining that one's own book (one of many) was not refuted in some particular! Nice try at topic evasion, though . . . maybe next time we'll be blessed with White's reply regarding Moses' Seat (which argument I did thoroughly refute in my book).

(This observation would require the RC apologist to trace the content of his alleged oral tradition back to Thessalonica, and, as they well know, that cannot be done for the major elements of that alleged tradition as Rome has defined it).

As my argument does not at all require such a thing, this is a non sequitur.

The immediate context of the passage and its relevance directly to the gospel (and hence to the content of the "tradition" delivered by Paul) is likewise ignored. In essence, nothing presented in regards to the meaning of 2 Thess. 2:15 in context is addressed by Armstrong. It is hard to
believe Armstrong has read the comments on pp. 99-101 of TRCC but he hasn't read pp. 95-98.

I don't read White's books, so why is this surprising? If the man can't do a simple written dialogue properly, why waste my time? I dealt with Calvin's "exegesis," and White has totally ignored that, so he is simply not critiquing my book thus far.

Now, if the standard of being "confounded" involves presenting a compelling, exegetically sound, contextually derived interpretation of a passage resulting in a clear vindication of the Roman Catholic reading . . .

The book was not primarily exegetical; rather, it was designed to show the shortcomings and inadequacies of Protestant commentary when it comes to these passages. One can point out holes in an opposing position without (technically) engaging in the same thing (exegesis proper). If, for example, someone made a simple logical error in an extremely complicated theory in physics that I knew nothing whatsoever about, it would still be rational and acceptable for me to point it out. I made all this very clear in my Introduction, which can be read online. Once White figures out my goal and purpose in the book, perhaps his critiques will have some relevance and not descend into straw men and non sequiturs. As it is, he hasn't made a single extended argument against any particular argument of mine in this section.

(though, how Dave Armstrong, a private Catholic, could actually know the "official" Roman understanding of a passage without engaging in "private interpretation" is difficult to say anyway),

Off the subject . . . nor is this required of Catholics, anyway.

then we need to re-work the sub-title to "91 Bible Passages that Confound Protestants."

. . . and White's "response": "Four Straw Men That Purport to be Rational Replies."

Next we will look at Armstrong's handling of the passages he presents regarding Penance.

Great. Perhaps White can actually make a counter-argument next time. Let's hope and pray.
===============================================================

Total words: White: 937
Total words: Armstrong (new replies; not counting citations from White's article): 723 (or 77% as many as White's)

Note White's statement yesterday: "Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall . . . let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage." And one of his admirers stated on my blog, regarding White: "He doesn't just say 'read my books', rather he does his best to actually answer questions." We see above that he practically did just that: he turned a supposed critique of my book into a gripe about how I didn't deal with his. And he did his best to ignore all actual arguments of mine. He merely dismissed them as "simplistic" and deficient for "any serious minded reader."

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

James White Takes Up a Critical Review of My Book, "The Catholic Verses" (!!!)

Contrary to his usual "principle" (if one can call it that), Bishop White has actually shown himself willing to take on some of my arguments in writing. This marks a new turning-point in our warm relationship and Christian fellowship. Prior to now, by and large, White has ignored my written arguments and has stuck to mockery of how long and irrelevant and substanceless my papers allegedly are, etc. He did do a critique of my radio appearance on Catholic Answers Live, concerning Bible and Tradition, on several of his Dividing Line webcasts. I showed how shallow that was, by delving at length (I know, "ha ha") into one particular example of his "argumentation" there (unresponded to, of course). See: The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-30) vs. Sola Scriptura and James White.

My own suspicion (just a speculation, mind you) is that the "Armstrong writes meaningless sentences, full of sophistry and non sequitur, a million pages long" excuse rhetoric may be wearing thin among some White supporters (such as those he gabs with in his chat room). Perhaps a few of them have urged White to take me on, since (from their perspective) I am doing such harm to "the gospel" by my "verbose" rantings and ravings. After all, someone's gotta stop me, right, before I lead further uninformed, poor souls astray with my abominable Catholic apologetics, in defense of lies, the Antichrist, etc.? This excuse of his to avoid rational (and for the anti-Catholic, necessary) theological dispute just doesn't cut it, even by the rock-bottom, illogical, incoherent standards of discourse and evidence that characterizes the anti-Catholic mindset. So here we go.

Even so, I expect that he will write his thing, I'll respond, and then it'll be over (i.e., for that particular sub-topic; presumably one of the Bible passages I write about). That's how it has been since 1995 with White and I , since our lengthy postal exchange that he prematurely departed. But hey, he has now decided to change his policy of never engaging me in writing (except to mock and ridicule and dismiss), so maybe we'll be blessed with another radical innovation in his methodology: going more than one round in a written debate. Here is White's entire blog entry (12-29-04): ===============================================

The Catholic Verses: Introit

I sometimes feel sorry for ancient artists. Their work gets plastered all across the covers of modern books, but they never get a dime for their efforts. It's a shame. That odd observation aside, I picked up a copy of Dave Armstrong's The Catholic Verses: 95 Bible Passages That Confound Protestants (Sophia Institute Press, 2004, 235 pp.), which sports said ancient art (a di Bondone painting) on its cover. I'm a Protestant, and I have yet to be confounded by Dave Armstrong, so I thought it might be interesting to invest some time in using it as a resource here on the blog.

Likewise, I was listening to a debate between a Church of Christ minister and Bill Rutland, another Roman Catholic apologist, yesterday. I was fascinated by Rutland's bold assertions about the Greek language (I'll be addressing him in time). When RC apologists like Armstrong and Rutland promote arguments in their writings and debates that are, in fact, invalid, we have a duty to respond to them, even if we have, in fact, responded to similiar kinds of errors dozens of times in the past. Why? Because the folks you may be seeking to win to the gospel may have a copy of The Catholic Verses on their nightstand, or a CD of Rutland's in their car.

Now, of course, DA will respond with text files (liberally salted with URL's) that will average 10x the word count of anything I have to say. That's OK. I shall win the award for brevity and concise expression, and let him take home the bragging rights to verbosity and bandwidth usage. Thankfully, there are folks "in channel" who can help me find out if there is, in fact, anything at all of substance in said replies, and if there is, I will seek to note it, again for only one reason: the edification of the saints both in their confidence in the gospel and in their preparation for the task of proclamation.

So we will begin with one of the classic passages in the Catholic/Protestant debate: 2 Thessalonians 2:15. I will start there in the next installment simply because Armstrong notes The Roman Catholic Controversy in his book, hence, his section on the verse should "confound" my own exegesis of the text. Does it? We shall see. ================================================

Yes we shall. I think we'll "see" quite a bit if White intends to take up this discussion in earnest. Just for fun, I may even write less words than he does (if indeed it is possible, seeing that his analyses are so filled with errors and misrepresentations -- especially of my own arguments -- that "brevity" is quite the gargantuan task and an exercise in extreme self-control, for one literally surrounded by falsehoods to be responded to briefly). That will provide a true challenge from White, for a change (if only indirectly), which would be nice.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Is There Any Legitimate Musicological Basis for Comparing the Beatles to Schubert?

Steve wrote:

I have to quibble with the "modern Schuberts" moniker [this is how I described the Beatles underneath a photo]. As gifted of tunesmiths as Paul, John & co. were, they don't compare to Schubert or any other classical master. There is an immense gulf in the level of craftsmanship between, say Schubert's 9th Symphony and Sgt. Pepper (especially as the craft in that album largely came from George Martin). The Beatles main schtick was introducing more diatonic, folk-influenced melodies and harmonies to the largely blues / rockabilly based popular music of the late 50's & 60's. But the comparison with classical music is off base. The Beatles are no more the modern Schuberts as Cole Porter is the modern Bach or Burt Bachrach is the modern Beethoven. They are all very talented musicians, but I would look to composers such as Part, Schnittke, Penderecki, post-war Stravinsky or Wuorinen (all either Catholic or Orthodox and significant composers of sacred music by the way) as my candidates for the "modern Schubert".

I reply:

Again, this is not just my judgment, but that of many musicologists and music critics, who would be the ones qualified to make such a favorable comparison. Nor does the comparison imply some sort of one-on-one parallel between classical and rock music, as if they are on the same plane (which would be silly), or of "craftsmanship." Schubert is known, of course, as the greatest melodist of all time (only one aspect of many, of classical music). This is the specific connection. Paul and John (and George more and more, as time went on) arguably hold that position in the pop world. If you know music, you can, e.g., see some very complex chord progressions in Beatles music, which are usually not found in non-jazz popular music. The only real competitor to their status in this regard would be Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, in my opinion.
Here's evidence of my claim:


William Mann wrote in The Times that Lennon and McCartney were 'the greatest songwriters since Schubert'; . . .

(MusicWeb)

For a wonderful, in-depth analysis of the unique musical aspects of the Beatles, see the article, "Words and chords: The semantic shifts of the Beatles' chords," by Ger Tillekens. Here are a few excerpts:

The flat-VI, a real Beatles' favorite, has often been called the Buddy Holly chord, though Buck Owens also has been honored as the main source of inspiration. This chord belongs to the cluster of parallel Majors: flat-VI, flat-III and flat-VII — sometimes also referred to as Neapolitan chords. In the abundance of these chords in the Beatles' songs Steven Porter (1983: 72) finds evidence for a strong Classical influence on the group's compositions. He has to admit, however, the flat-VI is behaving quite otherwise — indeed, according to its role in the diagonal grid, as a substitute for the iv. "All My Loving," a composition of McCartney, showing a free combination of turnaround and turnback, offers a another good example of these chords, the flat-VII (example 3). Just like the flat-VI in "I Saw Her Standing There," this chord turns the context of the lyrics toward the private side of display and the individual side of realization, thereby making the word "true" coming from deep within, sounding sincere and privately voiced.

Our last example, the verse of "All I Got To Do" with its exceptional length of 11 measures, is again a Lennon' composition (example 5). It illustrates the function of parallel minors in locating a semantic position in the matrix of conversation. In this particular case the work is done by the minor subdominant. Semantically this chord has the same function as the minor fifth that's facilitating the modulation in "I Want To Hold Your Hand." It is important to notice that these minor chords do not sound sad. The "sadness" of parallel minor keys is still a standard in music theory. It does apply to the work of Mahler or Schubert, often referred to in this context. In the Beatles' songs — and Pop Rock music in general — another feeling, however, is attached to these chords. With the parallel Major chords the parallel minors share the location of private space, making utterances sound sincere and deeply felt. As
these minor chords point toward the collective side of realization they give the lyrics a more convinced and determined sound.

Also, see Ian Hammond's article, "Virtuosos Need Not Apply," where he makes many interesting observations such as the following:

You won't find many classical performers who are expected to write and arrange their own material. You'll very few who are expected to sing while they perform on their instruments. Yes, some jazz musicians sing while they play, but they fall into three categories: (1) many of them stopped playing their instrument when they sang; (2) others sang rather perfunctorily; (3) the small remainder were usually Pop Jazz musicians. Fats Waller is a superb example. His atypical small combo is a great model for the rock 'n' roll band (the Beatles performed his Your Feets Too Big).

See his larger site: Beathoven: Studying the Beatles. He makes a direct comparison of the Beatles to Brahms and Beethoven and other composers, in terms of use of chords in his pieces, The Chromatic Subtonic (1) and The Chromatic Subtonic (2).

Alan W. Pollack's "Notes on ..." Series is a musicological analysis of every single Beatles song. Here's an article about it: A Beatles' Odyssey: Alan W. Pollack's musicological journey through the Beatles' songs, by Ger Tillekens.

In the website, Vocalist .org, this statement is made (echoing mine above):

1. Differentiate form and genre in music

Form relates to structure and genre to style. Schubert and the Beatles used similar forms in writing their songs yet, they could hardly be considered the same genre unless you consider structure to be the essence of communication. One could say that the underlying genteel nature of song form created more similarity between the Beatles and Schubert separating both from Beethoven and his more tormented personality demonstrated in his use of the more dialectic form of sonata-allegro . . .

One could go on and on with this (I found all these sources in just a half-hour search on Google ("Beatles Schubert"); I think my point is well-established as one far beyond my own speculation. It was precisely because I was already familiar with this comparison having been made by musicologists, that I made it, in brief form.


Round III With Ed Babinski On Profound Christian Ignorance, & Every Subject Under the Sun Except the Topic (The Psalms) -- Expanded

Link:

How and Why Discussions With Agnostics and Atheists Often (Sadly) Collapse / The Many Logical Fallacies of Ed Babinski and Friends (Was [and occasionally still touches upon]: Discussion on the Psalms) 92K

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Here's the latest development in this strange exchange, with yet more parties entering in (as I said, "make yourself at home"). Sharon Mooney, Ed's webmaster, has now started writing to me. Her words will be in green:

[E-mail of 12-22-04]

Months ago I requested of Ed, if he were engaging in correspondence, to please let me know about it, so that it might end up on his site. Namely, because I'm not a mind reader, and having no way to know what he's posted around the internet. It may seem simple to you that he would post on your blog -- and that all his acquaintances visit and read, if so, you can't appreciate my/our schedule. Speaking for myself, normally, I am in college, and sometimes it is weeks that I'll save an email (article) from Ed, before I get it on the web. I'm out of college right now for break, but using the time to catch up on other work. I asked him specifically to forward or carbon copy me everything he writes that qualifies for web material (even the seemingly insignificant stuff). You probably want skeptics to read your web page I presume, then how would they know about it, unless carbon copied in an email? I've been distracted by a good number of other issues, and haven't had time to focus on Ed's debate with you -- not yet, not right now, though I did get one web page on the site yesterday.

I have no problem with this. That's fine. What I object to is this impromptu gathering of critics, who prefer to talk about me and at me, rather than directly to me (not to mention all the unnecessary put-downs and insults -- the inevitable ad hominem attacks, in full force here). You (as far as I know) did not participate in that sort of thing, so my remarks had nothing to do with you. If Ed posts this (via you, as webmaster), wonderful. That's more than I can say for most of my dialogical opponents. I'm delighted if that many more agnostics and atheists can read my arguments. Thanks!

It seems to me if you had the intention of being fair you'd do it with your blog or by email. Already from the first paragraph of reading, it's apparent to me, you're being quite biased.

I see, but of course, Ed and the "Group" are not doing that at all, in their numerous fallacious digressions and non sequiturs, as I have been chronicling.

I plan to get the correspondence between yourself and Ed on his site, if he still wants it that way. But if you insist on being unfair, I don't know that Ed or myself would care.

Yes, I know the feeling, believe me, except that I post what happens regardless of the outcome. That's what free speech and the open exchange of competing ideas and facilitation of critical thinking in the undecided is about.

If you wanted to do the right thing you'd remove that web page you sent us the URL to and start over again with something a lot more polite. Ed is far too nice of a person for the way you're criticizing him in that web page.

I'm sure Ed is very nice. I've always found him to be so, personally. My objection is strictly to how this dialogue is proceeding methodologically. It's not personal. It's based on notions of fair play and consideration of the other, benefit of the doubt, and those sorts of concepts that I have always assumed and believed are common to atheists and Christians alike, as they are fundamental. When one sees the sort of things I am accused of, or compared to (which have nothing to do with the argument at hand), then all of a sudden, this nice man, Ed, has become a little bit not-nice insofar as his rather insulting assumptions about me, a Christian, are concerned. I haven't done that to him. As a prominent example, note how Ed condescendingly characterizes me, as if I am a mindless, intellectually bankrupt special pleader, because I believe in biblical inspiration:

The point is that Dave adores the Bible it is his beloved, a letter from God. He will defend it all, from Eden to the Flood, from the tower of Babel to the slaughter of the Canaanites, with poetry, hyperbole, and metaphor if he has to, in fact, anyway he can, to make even the vilest shit in it
smell like it should be served at communion to the heavenly choir. Therefore, you can't really argue with a person whose perception is that caught up in a single book.

Or how about this gem of strikingly prejudicial, sweeping observation about all Christians, not just myself (as a proud member of that class):

Religion is a puddle from which a gnat may drink and in which an elephant may bathe. And even the weakest disputant is made so conceited by what he calls religion, as to think himself wiser than the wisest who thinks differently from him.

Try to imagine, Sharon, if these sentiments were flipped over and applied to you as an agnostic (or whatever you are; I don't know). Would you continue to say that I am the only one being unfair and impolite? This is clearly poisoning the well; a classic, textbook case (as I clearly demonstrated, right from Copi). This sort of thing is the real "vile (manure)" that is going on here . . .

The next e-mail -- also of 12-22-04 -- was sent by Sharon just to Ed and I. Since she considered it "private," I won't cite it, but I will summarize it as her questioning whether our dialogue should be put on his website because of my alleged lack of politeness and supposed slandering of Ed as "dishonest" in debate (I did no such thing). My last response was described as "awful" and her decision to post or not was conditioned upon removing it. The next letter on the same day informed the "Group" that there was one posted section now on Ed's website concerning our discussion. This section is entitled Dave Armstrong Correspondence. It states a falsehood about me (only slightly qualified, but clearly believed by Sharon herself, in her correspondence), thus poisoning the well before anyone reads a word: "This section of Ed's site was set up following a visit to Dave Armstrong's blog, which appears to malign Ed as employing dishonest debate tactics."

The first link on this page is called Dave Armstrong - Edward Babinski debate at Dave's blog site, and features the following (I think, congenial and fair) introduction from Ed which seems to suggest that he has not found me as "impolite" as his webmaster Sharon has:

Catholic convert and web-pologist Dave Armstrong has produced a massive pro-Catholic website over the years. The story of his conversion to Catholicism appears in a bestselling book of similar converts (mostly former Protestantism I think), and he has published numerous books of Catholic apologetics, all available at amazon.com, that strive to make Catholicism and its various unique doctrines and practices appear in as rational a light as possible, as well as having published in-depth counters to both Protestantism and Modernism. Dave recently composed a long web piece at his blog-site criticizing one of my shorter pieces on the psalms. He continues to write in a pretty friendly fashion and invite my response, as well as the responses of any readers of the debate, and he publishes them all at his blog-site. Most folks who read Dave's blog are Christians and respond in kind. His blog could probably use just a few non-Christian responses or even moderate Christian responses from moderate Christian university profs, to balance matters out a tad.

I agree! Note that I have repeatedly invited Ed and even his friends to come onto my blog and comment and engage in a real conversation with a real Christian. They can outnumber me ten-to-one if that is what it takes, I don't care; the more the merrier (though, again, I find this to be a dubious method of discourse when a supposed one-on-one dialogue is occurring). But thus far, they have not, preferring to chat amongst themselves and to send me the third-person observations about me. I find this less-than-ideal or (if you will) "polite" dialogue method. It's fine if observers want to enter in, but they should talk directly to me, not about me. That's the distinction I object to. I urge both agnostics and "moderate" (i.e., liberal) Christians to come around and dialogue on my blog. The water's warm, and we don't bite.

The second page featuring our debate is called Biblical Mercy, and features Ed's patented mile-long digressions into subject matter not directly on-topic. But that's fine, as long as I don't have to deal with the digressions (I skipped over most of them because I am pretty strict about sticking to the subject, and will not be distracted, because I think that considerably lowers the fruitfulness of a discussion). But Ed's posting of his complete epic-length replies allows people to see a sadly typical agnostic conversational ploy (as I have debated many in my time and can speak from experience): hitting a Christian with 50 things from the Bible at once, as if this offers some bogus appearance of strength. This is, in fact, not a matter of strength or weakness of argument or evidence at all, on either side, but about how one person can only do so much at a time, and how dialogue (like any college course) can only progress if it is narrowed down. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, but, I think, quite justified, and not at all unreasonable or over-demanding.

The short page Psalm 91 features a little snippet of our dialogue. The introduction on the main point misses what I was trying to accomplish in my replies and distorts my argument: "Inappropriate Psalm used at the funeral of a woman who died young which promises 'long life' as part of Jehovah's favor -- none of which Becca received. Dave refused to address Ed's questions which were on topic, and relevant."

To which I say, "hogwash!" I urge other biblical skeptics and agnostics to read my response. Perhaps they can offer a counter-reply that Ed has yet to produce. But I directly addressed his concerns, and defeated them, as far as I'm am concerned.

The next page, Thoughts on the Psalms, is introduced with a similarly jaded and wildly distorted comment, which only proves that Sharon either didn't read my response, or never understood the very nature of it: "Psalms and the foolish concept that worshipping Jehovah and alone Jehovah will guarantee a long fruitful life vs. a short non-prosperous one." I specifically made arguments showing that the Bible did not take this simplistic view that Ed attributes to it. Phil (here in brown; previously green) seems to think I am polite enough, contra Sharon's impressions:

Well, if we're grading, I would give both of you "A's" for "amiability, " impassioned and thought provoking discussions. I would give an "F" to the guy who sent you (Ed) the "burn in hell" hate mail posted on your site . . .

So would I. I know nothing about it. But I detest such rhetoric, and almost always regard it as arrogant and judgmental. We're not God. We don't know who will be damned. Then Thomas Cook (purple) adds (followed by Ed's comment):

Ed, Armstrong and his gang are just too mean! Talk origins is propaganda? Why isn't the stuff they write considered propaganda? I thought none of the Christians treated you with kindness. Every response was belittling to you. Perhaps Steve could also take them on? Is he still debating with Turkel? Are you going to continue to reply to Armstrong?

I thought it was interesting that in his first reply to me, Dave began with this line: "Ed's skeptical take on this is clear already: God's promises are null and void, and obviously vacant: just look at this poor woman; she was a Christian, and trusted God, but did that help her? No! Quite the contrary. God didn't do a darned thing to save her . . . Etc." Dave begins by picturing me as questioning "God," when I never said that I believed "God" wrote the psalms. I was contrasting what Psalm 91 said and promised (whether the psalms and their promises were inspired by "God" or not is another question), with what actually happened to Becca. Dave's response seems to have demonstrated Christianity's built-in defense system at work, namely that if you question the meaning, propriety, overblown pomposity/hyperbole, interpretation, or intent of a Biblical work or writer, then you are directly questioning "God" Himself.

Sheer nonsense. Ed thoroughly misunderstands the nature of my response. Of course he doesn't believe in God; he is an agnostic. What I assumed in my response is that Ed is making an argument from internal inconsistency and absurdity (a sort of reductio ad absurdum). So when I mention "God" in this context, it is as an agnostic or atheist talks about God (and they do, quite a bit, even though they don't believe in Him, and it is in precisely this sense). So again, Ed assumes I am far more ignorant than I am. In fact, my thought-process here was much more sophisticated and familiar with philosophical argument and logic than he seems to have been aware. Hopefully, now he will understand these types of statements in context. I understand full well that Ed's attempt is to paint the Psalms as incoherent, absurd, and (overall) unworthy of belief. My argument was that this was not the case, and that Ed misconstrued rather simple factors in how to interpret such literature and how in fact, the Jews historically did interpret it. Does Ed really believe I am so stupid and unfamiliar with agnostic reasoning vis-a-vis the Bible, that I would actually think either that (1) he believed in God, or (2) he believed that God wrote the Psalms? If so, then I confess that I am dumbfounded at how far off the mark he is in grasping how I argue, and what I know. But stranger things have happened. Ed reiterates the obvious (that skeptics like him are "sure" the Bible is stock-full of contradictions and moral monstrosities):

A long-time friend of mine, Bruce Wildish, who has studied theology (though he is not a theologian), had a discussion with me years ago about certain broad differences between the theological views found in different parts of the Hebrew Bible, differences that Dave might disagree exist, or attempt to harmonize away, but which seem plain to a lot of religion professors whom Bruce has read. Whether or not you believe in "God" is not the point. The point is that the Bible remains a book whose origin and interpretations remain contested even by the world's greatest living religion professors.

The point is that we would expect these divergent interpretations, for a variety of reasons. But the bottom line is that one's presuppositions have a lot to do with how one approaches the text. The agnostic usually approaches the Bible the way a butcher approaches a hog, whereas the Christian approaches it the way that a music lover or orchestra musician or conductor views Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart.That's a world of difference. And while I freely admit that this predisposition causes a considerable bias in favor of a harmonious Bible, and hence, some special pleading and bad arguments too often among Christians, I rarely see agnostics admitting that their predisposition of hostility to the Bible often wreaks havoc on the logic or plausibility of their interpretations. Beyond that, they usually try to set forth the pretense that they know far more about the Bible than we Christians who have intensely studied it for many years (27, in my case). And that is a double standard. I freely admit that everyone is biased, and that it is foolish to deny it. But it doesn't follow that this precludes all intelligent biblical exegesis and hermeneutics, on either side. Bias is the human condition, and we will never get rid of it. I generally think agnostic biblical analysis is atrocious and filled with basic errors of fact and logic (Ed's included, in the present case), but it doesn't have to be (just by virtue of being what it is). Ed then cites Bruce, giving the usual anthropological-type, modernist take on the Old Testament. While worthy of a long discussion itself, such topical material is off the subject. I find it humorous that when I was actually on-topic, discussing how to properly interpret Psalms, Ed accused me of not answering him. But he seems to think that soliloquies about the broad range of Old Testament literature (when coming from a fellow agnostic) are quite on-subject.

More thoughts on the Psalms and God's Will feature sections that I have already included in my version of the dialogue (and replied to -- when on-topic). Agnosticism and the Christian World View consists mostly of rabbit trails. I've dealt with whatever part of it was relevant. What Catholics once Believed offers a litany of untold horrors in that religion. What this has to do with our topic remains a mystery to me. But I suppose it could be utilized as a variant of the Genetic Fallacy: "Dave is a Catholic. Catholics believe weird things, now and in the past. Therefore, we can dismiss Dave's arguments and not deal with them rationally, without fallacies and obfuscation such as this." Profound reasoning, isn't it?

The web page Bibles offers more endless tidbits and anecdotes apparently thought to be collectively damning to the rationality and believability of Christianity, but off-topic. And we have more non sequitur and noncomprehension of my arguments:

Ah yes, Phil, as you say, the need to be right. Men will die simply for ideas, and the need to justify their own, either with words or swords. I could say that Dave was the first to fire the long shot over my bow, responding to something I wrote and telling me that I was "questioning God!" I know what I was doing, and it had as little to do with "God" as I believe that particular psalm did. To Dave I am questioning "God," but in my opinion, no one has yet shown that "God" is the author of everything in the Bible. Not even moderate Christians believe that.

This silly business that I was somehow assuming that Ed believed in God or was arguing against Him has been dealt with above. Hopefully, he will "get" this now. He is just making himself look silly, the more he pursues this felt "zinger" that is 100% off-mark.

Phil chimes in with more ad hominem mockery:

He did indeed "draw you out" (as if you were some slimy Leviathan and He was Yahweh) and then try to lay the ground rules in his court -- where he reasons as a Socratic along with some "revelation" knowledge -- who can argue with that?

Ed-as-the-slimy-beast and yours truly as God. Really objective analysis . . . as stated previously, my argument does not depend at all on a presumption of the truthfulness of divine inspiration of the Bible, but rather, upon logic, sensible interpretation, historical Jewish hermeneutic and religious worldview, and internal consistency.

Revelation solves everything. Not that everybody agrees on what particular revelations say or mean or how each of them are to be applied.*smile*

Is there an actual rational argument in this that I have missed? I'll keep looking; maybe I'll locate one. Not content with ridiculing Christians, Ed at length takes on the Christian conception of God, in what I'm sure he thinks is a hilarious, knee-slapping piece of ridicule (and according to him, I take passages like this as evidence that Ed believes in God himself LOL):

Those Bible verses about God "smelling the soothing aroma" do make ya wonder though, whether God still lusts after the scent of burnt animals. Today, if He did, He'd probably have to settle for a barstool at a steak house with Zeus, Odin, Marduk and Baal by His side, chatting about the good old days, all sneaking a whiff of that old "soothing" stuff.

Course, maybe God's addiction just kept getting worse, from flaming farm animals, to His son, and now He's probably addicted to "smelling the soothing aroma" of whole planets filled with living creatures exploding into cosmic fireballs. Wait, isn't that mentioned in the book of Revelation? Quick! Call the Pope to arrange an intervention, we gotta get God into rehab! And tell Outback to double my order.

No bias at all here, of course. Ed and his cronies are utterly objective, sensible, and reasonable, while Christians are always (or almost always, at the very least) subjective, senseless, and irrational. That about covers Ed's "Armstrong Page" for now.