Thursday, March 31, 2011

My Two Conversions: An Interview with Spanish Journalist Itxu Díaz, of the Dicax Press Agency

By Dave Armstrong (3-31-11)

Itxu Díaz is a journalist from Spain. He works for the Dicax Press, and also has a personal website. He contacted me for an interview that will be part of a feature for his site, called "Catholics Around the World". His questions will be in blue.

* * * * *

As far as I could read in this article, before your conversion you were interested in the "supernatural". What got you interested in telepathy or magic?

I think that was a function of a certain "spiritual curiosity" or religious urge, even before I had much interest in Christianity itself. I was raised as a Methodist but I was very ignorant and knew little about my faith. For whatever reason, Christianity appeared to me boring, inconsequential, and removed from the "real world." I hated to go to church on Sunday, and in fact, we stopped going when I was nine years old, when our inner-city congregation ceased to exist. I basically lived as a "secular pagan" for the next nine years of my life: all the way through high school.

Yet I had a curiosity that would later lead me to Christianity, once I learned more about it. In this vacuum, I became fascinated with supernatural things: probably as a result of "eery" television shows like The Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, and so forth. I read a book about it, and then tried to actually do telepathy, ESP, the Ouija board, and other practices. It wasn't just a game for me. I was genuinely pursuing it and thought it was a real thing.

Now I know that much of it is indeed real, but lies in the Satanic or demonic realm. I think it is a case study of any number of beliefs taking the place of Christianity, where the latter is absent for the most part. G. K. Chesterton noted that when people reject Christianity, the problem is not that they believe in nothing, but that they will believe in anything.

In your [initial, evangelical] conversion, the film Jesus of Nazareth and your depression in 1977 were two important points. What did you learn from the movie Jesus of Nazareth? How did it influence you?

Movies about Christian themes (when they are done well) have always made a powerful impression on me. Dramatic films "make it real" and possess an emotional impact that doesn't always come across in writing. This was a case of "the right thing at exactly the right time." It remains my favorite Christian film.

Beyond the excellence of the movie itself, as a piece of art, I think what moved me was being presented with a realistic portrayal of Jesus. I was dazzled by it. For the first time in my life I was confronted with what He was really like. By this time I had figured out (from my evangelical brother Gerry) that He was actually God in the flesh, which I hadn't realized till about two years before (actually during another film about Jesus: The Greatest Story Ever Told). It fascinated me, while watching it: that this Person was actually God.

The Person of Jesus was so immensely appealing that I could hardly not become His disciple after that experience. He seemed like the ultimate nonconformist (something very important to me, especially at that stage of my life), and He would always give answers that were striking and unexpected. As it turned out, I gave my life over to Him as a disciple at that time, around Easter 1977. This was my "conversion to Christ through evangelical Protestantism." It was a profound event for me, and transformed and changed my life. I've never been the same since.

Relating to your depression, was it an important event in your [first] conversion?

It was key, because it was highly symbolic of my previous thinking, that I didn't need God: that I could supposedly go through life with little or no thought of him. Like most people, I had a lot of pride and a self-delusion of self-sufficiency without God: what has been called "practical atheism" (living your life as if God doesn't exist).

Now, when a person has that amount of stubbornness and stupidity, sometimes drastic action is necessary. God loves us enough to do whatever it takes to wake us up. Going through serious, clinical depression is enough to scare the wits out of anyone, I think. I went from a very self-confident, "got it all together" person to someone who was in the deepest despair and anguish, and unable to figure out why I was depressed or how I would get out of the deep dark pit that I was in. My self-image and seeming "happiness" was annihilated. I had never experienced anything like that before, and never since that time. Thus, in my mind, in retrospect, I think the larger purpose of it in God''s providence was to cause me to finally decide to yield up my self-will (and myself, period) to God.

It was almost like I had no choice but to surrender to God and cease my rebellion against Him. I had nowhere else to go. As I was coming out of the depression, having cried out to God, I felt that I literally experienced what King David did, as he expressed in Psalm 40:1-4:

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
[2] He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
[3] He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
[4] Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods!

When did you start to become interested in theology? Was it the reason that led you to Catholicism?

What led me to theology and Christianity was the process I briefly described above, along with the influence of my brother Gerry, who would "witness" to me now and then. Occasionally I attended his church and would squirm in my seat, because I basically knew that what the pastor was saying was correct. I just didn't want to give my life over to Jesus, because I wanted to be my own Boss.

But God gave me a consciousness and innate sense that Christian teaching on moral issues was correct. I didn't want to follow those teachings. I was a typical teenager of today (and probably of all times). Interest in theology came immediately after my conversion; particularly C. S. Lewis and books about prophecy by Hal Lindsey. Biblical prophecy had a great appeal to my curiosity. Generally, things have to challenge my mind or intellectual curiosity for me to become interested in them. That was as true in those days as it is now. And that is why I took quickly to apologetics, which is a a way to harmonize faith and reason.

My interest in Catholicism came 13 years later, in 1990. By then I had become a Protestant Christian apologist and campus evangelist, and had studied many many things in theology and apologetics. The initial issue that drew me into wanting to learn more about Catholicism was contraception, as a result of being in the pro-life movement and meeting Catholics there. I couldn't comprehend what was so wrong about it. I even argued once (in a friendly manner) with a priest, and he couldn't give me a solid reply. He was a solid pro-lifer (this is how I met him), but wasn't up to speed with his apologetics. I was informed by a Catholic friend that no Christians (including the Orthodox and all Protestants) thought that contraception was permissible and right, until 1930, when the Anglicans first allowed it in limited cases. That shocked me to no end. Again, then, it was moral theology or questions of right and wrong that played a key role.

The next factor that led me on was an interest in studying the so-called Protestant "Reformation" and what really happened in the 16th century with Martin Luther, John Calvin, and other Protestant founders. I had read some material from the Protestant perspective; now I wanted to see what Catholics would say about it, to get a more balanced view. Once again I was astonished by what I learned. I had been brainwashed by hearing only one side, and it was usually a thoroughly biased account. There are two sides to every story, in other words.

If you had to choose just one author who was decisive for your conversion to Catholicism, who would you choose?

Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman (1801-1890). This was the third and decisive factor in my conversion to Catholicism: reading his work, Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. What that did was explain in a coherent and intellectually brilliant fashion, how the early Church developed into the historic and current Catholic Church: how what we see today, that often seems excessive and different from the early, New Testament Church, is, in fact, the very same one, by a consistent process of development, much like an acorn grows into a large oak tree, while remaining identical to itself all along. I had been ferociously fighting against infallibility: a notion that I regarded as perfectly ridiculous; almost laughable. Cardinal Newman made short work of my pretensions.

This caused a revolution in my thought, as I realized that the Catholic Church was indeed the one true Church, and the "Church" referred to in the Bible, since the Bible never refers positively to denominations or more than one Church, or even more than one set of doctrinal beliefs in the one Church. Denominations are a category entirely foreign to the biblical, apostolic worldview. Protestants themselves know this full well, which is why they acknowledge that it is a scandalous state of affairs, and don't try to defend it. At best, they come up with an artificial, rationalizing, non-biblical distinction between primary or central and secondary doctrines: with a wide latitude allowed for the latter. But this breaks down on many levels, upon the slightest scrutiny.

Your conversion was in 1991 and you currently work as an author of numerous books on apologetics and Catholicism. What did you do before?

After several different jobs, I became a missionary to college campuses as an evangelical Protestant, from 1985 to 1989. After that, I settled into a delivery career (payroll) all through the 90s. My first book, A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, was finished during this period, in 1996, from individual treatises all the way back to early 1991, but it took seven years to get it "officially" published. I had started my website in early 1997, that continues to this day as a blog, and now I have also associated Facebook and Twitter Pages.

People knew of my work by the end of that decade, from the website, from articles in Catholic apologetic magazines (This Rock and The Catholic Answer), starting in 1993, and from my conversion story being published in the bestseller Surprised by Truth (edited by Patrick Madrid) in 1994. Thus, when the delivery company I worked for went out of business in December 2001, two weeks after the birth of my daughter and fourth child, I made an appeal on my website to see if people thought I should do full-time apologetics. They did, and I have been doing that ever since, with an income from book royalties, donations, and additional part-time work as necessary. I've definitely "paid my dues" but it is a great life, doing what I passionately love. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Do you find similarities between your conversion and Scott Hahn's conversion?

Not many. He was already a Presbyterian pastor. So his journey had a lot more to do with painstakingly working through each theological issue where Catholics and Protestants disagree. My journey, on the other hand, had to do with moral issues (contraception), and then historical matters (including study of the Protestant "Reformation" -- more properly described as a "Revolution" or "Revolt") and the determination of where the one true, biblical, apostolic Church could be found (ecclesiology).

Right after my conversion, I worked through the various doctrines and tried to explain them to Protestants, with as much biblical support as I could find, so I did what Scott did, but after my conversion, not before; and these initial papers eventually comprised my first book. That, in turn, has been the leading theme of my subsequent apologetics career: "biblical evidence for Catholicism" (as my blog is called): trying to explain to Protestants in terms they can understand (mostly from the Bible), that Catholicism is the fullness of Christian truth and that there continues to be a visible, apostolic, institutional Church, specially guided by the Holy Spirit and granted by God the gift of infallibility.

Do you think that Catholics study and know enough about their own religion?

On the whole, no: generally speaking, they are abysmally, shamefully, shockingly ignorant, and fervent Protestants know this full well, which is one of the reasons they don't think too highly of Catholicism: Catholics themselves are the worst witness for the faith. I experienced this myself, having run across very few Catholics during my 13 years as an evangelical, who could and would share and defend their faith. When I finally did meet such a person in the pro-life movement, it was such a curiosity to me that it led me to extensive discussions and study and ultimately conversion. It could have easily happened many years before if only a Catholic had taken the initiative to defend and explain his or her faith to me.

The irony is that Catholicism is, we believe, the fullness of Catholic truth; yet we Catholics do such a poor job of proclaiming, defending, and living out that faith. And this is one of the primary motivations for why I am an apologist: I want to educate Catholics to be confident in their beliefs, by knowing what they are in the first place, understanding them, and comprehending the reasoning behind them: why they believe what they believe. But the apologist can't compel anyone to be persuaded. That is ultimately the job of the Holy Spirit and grace. Mostly we try to remove roadblocks, or take out objections, to make the way clear for a change of mind and allegiance.

The more I engage in Catholic apologetics, the more I am convinced myself (without exception in every study that I do) that Catholicism is the fullness of Christian truth. This is the particular blessing that comes from apologetics. You know that you know that you know that the thing is true. I have always (since 1977) been interested in learning more about what I believe to be the truth, and sharing what I have found with others, by the grace of God and as a result of His calling.

Thanks for the opportunity to share about my life and journey to the Catholic Church. I appreciate it, and I enjoyed the interview a lot. May God abundantly bless you and all your readers.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Anti-Catholic Polemicist Steve Hays Falsely Claims That I Have No Accountability to My Priest and Bishop

By Dave Armstrong (3-27-11)

Here is the latest from this inveterate slanderer:

Is he [Paul Hoffer] accountable? I notice the conspicuous absence of contact information, either at the end of his post, or over at his own blog, which would enable readers to report him to his parish priest or diocesan bishop in case of misconduct. By the same token, I notice that Armstrong hasn’t made that information publicly available either. Yet Armstrong is hosting a post about personal accountability. Hoffer and Armstrong pay lip-service to the accountability-system of the Roman church while they shield themselves from direct accountability to their religious superiors. If they have the courage to stand behind their words, why don’t they provide the contact information for their religious superiors in case a reader has a grievance to lodge with superiors over their conduct?

I already answered this identical charge (from him) on 22 January 2011. But that is assuming that 1) the man reads anything by Catholics, or perhaps 2) takes anything seriously that is written by Catholics, or 3) takes at face value self-reports by Catholics, or 4) reads what Catholics say specifically in reply to him. None of these things are by any means certain, since he often deletes my comments on his blog when he finds himself unable to answer.

The controversy in question was an attack on lay apologetics at Boors All: an anti-Catholic site that Hays frequents. He participated in this discussion, which is why I replied to him on this very issue. He wrote in the combox there:

One simple test of whether lay Catholic apologists are accountable to their religious superiors is whether they leave contact info on the sidebar of their blog so that you can run what they say by their parish priest or local bishop's office. When have you ever seen this?

He parrots himself with the usual clueless anti-Catholic inanity and boorishness: not realizing (or cynically ignoring the known fact) that I have already fully dealt with this ridiculous charge. I replied at the time:

I have written many times for my parish newsletter, primarily under the auspices of Fr. Paul Ward (St. Joseph's in Detroit). I've spoken at parish meetings; my books are sold in the vestibule. The current priest is Fr. Paul Czarnota, who had approvingly read several of my books before he ever arrived. Steve is free to contact the church to ask what is thought of my work. The Most Reverend Allen H. Vigneron, Archbishop of the Detroit archdiocese, granted ecclesiastical approval for the book What Catholics Really Believe: for which I wrote the study guide. I was informed by the editor, Stan Williams, that not a single word of my portion was modified when the censor (Professor Robert Fastiggi, from Sacred Heart Seminary) checked it out for orthodoxy and accuracy. Those are my credentials in my own archdiocese. I also have an Imprimatur for my New Catholic Answer Bible. Steve Hays, however, is apparently accountable to no one. I recommend that someone try to find out who he is accountable to: if anyone. After all, accountability is also a Protestant concept. But he's just a guy (frustrated, unsuccessful academic) with a blog and a big mouth, and master of insults. He's not published anywhere that I know of, except for self-published works.

Now, I will be charitable and help poor Steve Hays, who -- notwithstanding his fathomless wisdom -- seems to have an extraordinarily difficult time navigating websites, and comprehending how he can possibly find this exceptionally mysterious, obscure information about where I go to church (and have these past twenty years).

When one looks at the top of my blog, there are seven major categories with which one begins a "card catalogue-type" search on my site. Steve (now pay close attention!) will want to select the second from the right, entitled "About Me." I think the average reader would be able to ascertain that this might lead to the desired personal information. Maybe not, and maybe Steve would find this difficult to comprehend. We all have our weaknesses and limitations, after all, and he stated outright that I haven't "made that information publicly available" and that my blog was notable for such information's "conspicuous absence."

But back to our task at hand. Now, here's where it could conceivably become quite frustrating for Steve, but we'll try our best to "dumb it down" and walk him through the process. Once there, readers are confronted with an incredibly complex, Byzantine set of three tables, each having eight sections. This might be over Steve's head, but if he puts his mind to it, I think it is entirely possible. He will (presumably, if he gets this far in his quest) look over these, and hopefully, by God's grace and a bit of luck, would be able to locate a category on the bottom-left corner of the second table down (the one in the middle).

Got that, Steve? Good! It is entitled (drum roll): "Home Parish: St. Joseph's in Detroit." This takes the reader to our parish website, complete with contact info! Now, that wasn't so hard, was it? Two clicks of a mouse: "About Me" (which is always on the top of my blog), and the parish link. This is even easier than a sidebar, because my sidebar has lots and lots of stuff, but the top of the blog is one small portion that is always visible.

The archdiocese is another story. It's true that I don't have that contact information listed on my site, as far as I know. But of course it could be obtained from my parish if necessary. Failing that, let's see if we can actually find such a thing. How about searching in Google:"Archdiocese of Detroit." The fact that I live in the Detroit area is all over my blog and Facebook page: if you click on the bottom of my profile on the sidebar ("View my complete profile"), it goes to my Blogger Profile, wherein it states at the top that I reside in "Metro Detroit, Michigan." Or one can click "Resume": permanently on the top right of my blog. At the bottom of that is my lengthy blurb, "About the Author." At the very end of that and end of the Literary Resume one learns that I "reside in Melvindale, Michigan (metro Detroit)." I don't think this is rocket science. Does anyone else except Steve Hays, who has a whale of a time figuring it out?

But back to the elaborate, excruciatingly tough Google search for my bishop. Using the words above, we have success! The very first hit is called "The Official Web Site for the Archdiocese of Detroit." YES! Even as you view it there, sitting on the Google search page, attentive readers may spot a subsection entitled "Contact." This actually takes one to phone numbers, email addresses, and street addresses. So it is another two-mouse-click affair: "Archdiocese of Detroit" in Google and "Contact" under the first hit. I think even Hays could manage to navigate this ineffably complicated labyrinth. Two clicks to my home parish; two clicks to my archdiocese.

Then Hays is free to inquire all he likes: to my priest, who is a big fan of my books and was reading them before he even arrived at my parish, or to my bishop, who has granted me ecclesiastical approval of one of my writing projects. Feel free, Steve. Not that he would ever actually do any of this, of course . . . but it makes for a melodramatic rhetorical flourish, doesn't it?: to make the vapid charge with no basis whatever in reality. This is a particular specialty of Hays'. He's the master of the groundless, logically challenged accusation.

Now let's see how mysterious is the contact information for my friend Paul Hoffer, who was also blasted by Hays. His blog is called Spes Mea Christus! Remember the charge that was made:

I notice the conspicuous absence of contact information, either at the end of his post, or over at his own blog, which would enable readers to report him to his parish priest or diocesan bishop in case of misconduct. . . . why don’t they provide the contact information for their religious superiors in case a reader has a grievance to lodge with superiors over their conduct?

Okay, Steve! The challenge has been met to find this difficult information. Let's head over to Paul's site and begin our quest. Less than a page view's scroll down we see "About Me" on the sidebar, and we learn that Paul lives in Norton, Ohio. Good! That wasn't too bad. Next section: "Important Links." We look through those, and . . . ah! Tenth one down is "My Diocese - the Diocese of Cleveland." A click on that brings all the contact information. Very next link is "My Parish - Saint Augustine Church - Barberton." Click: and we find all contact information again.

This is even easier than my site, but both are quite easy for anyone above a, say, third grade education, or IQ higher than a hose nozzle.

Okay; that settled, let's go over to Tribalblogue: Steve Hays' infamously imbecilic anti-Catholic site. How easy is it to find his contact information, so we can hold him accountable? Pretty quickly in scrolling down the sidebar we find his name. Clicking on that, we get a profile, where we discover that he is "a native of the greater Seattle area" -- but alas, we don't get to hear where he resides now. We have no idea where the man lives, and that's how he wants it: lest he actually be accountable to anyone. Who is Hays accountable to?! Nobody.

We see nothing about any church, or even a denomination (we know he is an anti-Catholic Calvinist), yet we are duly informed of the crucial , astonishingly revelatory information that Hays is a "semicessationist, . . . an Augustinian exemplarist . . . a Cartesian dualist. . . . an alethic realist, [and] scientific antirealist." Oh goody! I wouldn't be able to get to sleep without knowing all of this pedantic information! There is no human being we can contact in order for Hays to be accountable. He's an island unto himself, and thus almost a self-parody of a caricature of Protestant atomistic individualism that fellow Calvinists like Tim Enloe have tried so hard to maintain is not the case in Protestant ranks, and that "private judgment" does not mean what it means. But here is Exhibit #1.

The same profile page on 2-20-09 informed us that Hays was "a TA at RTS." Huge clues there, and perhaps at least an inkling of a denomination (once we figure out what "RTS" is). The current one says, "I have an MAR from RTS." But of course, folks who attend seminaries are often from different denominations. We want to know to whom the man is accountable (generally in the Protestant world, a guy called a "pastor"), and that is not to be had on his site: at least not easily, if so. If it is there, then I'm sure Steve will be happy to direct us all to it, just as I showed him where my personal parish and archdiocese info. could easily be found.

He has revealed in recent comments that he usually attends a PCA church (Presbyterian Church of America), but that is beside the point of the accountability issue. He doesn't say which church, where it is, and who is the pastor: let alone offering contact information that he demands of Catholics. As usual, it is the glaring anti-Catholic double standard. If he wants to argue that Protestants aren't accountable to anybody, let him. That will perpetuate one of the flaws that Catholic apologists have been pointing out for 500 years. He's a walking case study of what rampant sectarianism leads to.

I could find nothing else of a personal nature on his sidebar. Perhaps I missed it. So I guess we're out to sea. If Hays is accountable to anyone at all, certainly we couldn't find out who that might be by looking at his blog sidebar. But both Paul and I have easily accessible links to our home parishes.

One can only shake one's head at such rank hypocrisy and foolishness . . .

* * *

Paul Hoffer has now replied underneath Hays' hit piece:

I will offer a Christian response to your post on my own blog, but I just wanted to point out one slight error here. In regards to accountability, I offer a disclaimer that if I post anything contrary to the Catholic faith, I will make correction. I give my hometown on website, too. I also list links to both my bishop and my pastor on my website in the Important Links section. Thus, if you or any of your readers have a problem with anything I write that you think my bishop or my pastor should be aware, you may click on those links to where their addresses can be easily be found. I would also hope that you or they contact me so I could offer a response or provide correction if I do say anything offensive. I am sure that you will provide a correction to your article so no one would think you are bearing false witness against me. I will post your article and its correction on my blog so no one on my side of the Tiber could accuse of the same either.

I must say that if accountability is an issue for you perhaps you and Mr. Fan should provide links to your pastors on your websites as well lest one labels you and he hypocrites.

God bless you and yours! (3-27-11)

Hays, undaunted, makes himself even more ridiculous than he already is, in reply:

And does Armstrong's failure to heed your example indicate a lack of accountability on his part? (3-27-11)

As shown above, there is no such failure. Paul counter-replied:

He has a link to his parish under the "About Me" link and has posted articles about his particular parish on several occasions (which btw undercuts your beef here). (3-27-11)

Hays, in his increasing desperation to avoid ever admitting that he blew it and lied publicly yet again, comes back with this:

I see no email address for his priest. (3-27-11)

Etc. It's classic Hays obscurantism. Having been caught with his pants down and shown to clearly be in error about whether Paul and I list our home parishes (and never seeming to be able to retract and apologize), now he is desperately switching topics in the combox for his post, hoping that no one will notice. His cronies no doubt won't notice (they never do), but we do.

* * *

See Hays' astonishingly ridiculous "reply" -- but be duly forewarned: it will insult your intelligence like few things I have ever seen in my life.

* * * * *

Addendum (8-7-15): I have now been writing (since May 2014) a regular column, featured in the center of The Michigan Catholic: the official newspaper for the archdiocese of Detroit. Anyone can search my name on the site and see all my articles. Presumably, my archbishop is aware of that, and if I were so unaccountable and wrote egregious error in it, he would make sure I was booted out . . . 

James White Compared to Adjunct Faculty Members at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary

By Dave Armstrong (3-27-11)

For background information, see:

* * * * *

Bishop White and his large fan club are stating now that he is still teaching (present tense) at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, when in fact he hasn't done so since January 2010 (a three-day seminar), and wasn't listed on the adjunct faculty for that school on 12 December 2008, nor on 2 February 2009. Using the GGBTS listing of adjunct faculty and Course Syllabi (by Professor), I have listed a comparison of listed adjunct faculty who are not teaching a class in the present semester, and when they last taught a course, in comparison to Bishop "Dr." White.

James White (not listed: last course taught: January 13-15, 2010):

*Mike Baird Spring 2009

Randy Bennett Spring 2010

*Eric Bryant Fall 2009

*Kelly Campbell Fall 2009

Michael Crane January 2010

Darlene R. Gautsch Fall 2010

Steven Goodwin Summer 2010

Gerald Green Fall 2010

*Ron Ornecker Fall 2009

*Norm Langston Fall 2009

Larry Laxton Spring 2010

Kei An Lee Spring 2010

*Tim Levert Summer 2009

*Hector Llanes Fall 2008

*Joshua Mathews Fall 2009

*Raymond Meyer Spring 2009

*Mark Mucklow Fall 2009

*Michael Nolen January 2009

W. Berry Norwood Fall 2010

Don G. Overstreet Fall 2010

*Edward Pearson Summer 2009

*Richard Porter Spring 2009

J. T. Reed Spring 2010

Steve Saccone Spring 2010

*Stuart Sheehan January 2009

Del Straub [no courses listed]

*Andrea Taylor Spring 2009

David Tetrault Fall 2010

*Mark Wagner Spring 2009

Adella Washington Fall 2010

Grand totals: 30 faculty were listed who are not teaching at GGBTS this semester; 16 of the 30 last taught a course prior to the date that White did (while one additional person has no listed courses at all); yet they are among the roster of adjunct faculty, along with the other 14, while White is not. Why? Is it not reasonable, then, to safely assume that White is no longer a member of the adjunct faculty of GGBTS? One would think so. Why, then, does White keep asserting that he is?

His bio sheet for his publisher, Bethany House, states that he is "an adjunct professor with Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary." His bio sheet for his diploma mill alma mater, Columbia Evangelical Seminary asserts that "White, an ordained Baptist minister, is Adjunct Professor teaching New Testament Greek, Systematic Theology, Christology, and Hebrew for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary at their Arizona Campus." The blurb for ReformedCast: episode #26: "The Importance of Apologetics (Pt. 1), 3-21-11, states that "White . . . teaches Greek, Systematic Theology, and various topics in the field of apologetics at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary."

[Later April Fool's Day note from 4-1-11: Bethany House has modified its blurb and it now reads: "[White] has taught courses for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary."]

But according to the GGBTS syllabi, White taught about apologetics (secularism, atheism, and Islam) in Summer 2009, and Islam in Spring 2008. In order to date courses taught on these other mentioned subjects, we have to consult White's own bio page at his website, "aomin". There we learn that he hasn't taught anything with "Greek" in the title of the course since 2001 (hardly current). He hasn't taught systematic theology there since 2004. His last (and only course) in Christology was way back in the previous century and millennium: 1997. And for Hebrew, we have to go back to 2000.

I guess 7-14 years ago is considered "present tense" and "current" by the good folks at Columbia Evangelical Seminary and the ReformedCast. White, so we are told, is "teaching" these things now. We all regard time in different fashions, I reckon. Einstein's relativity and what-not . . . "Current" is in the eye of the beholder? In James White's thought-world, and that of his rabid followers, apparently this is the case. I guess I "currently" am not the father of a daughter, since my only daughter was born in 2001. But since 2000 and even 1997 are present now, I am simultaneously her father and not at the same time.

This is how ridiculous it gets: Orwellian doublespeak and doublethink . . . Unfortunately for White, GGBTS doesn't play these word games. They don't have him listed as adjunct faculty. He'll have to accept that cold, hard, cruel fact sooner or later. I suggest it be sooner, if he is concerned about his credibility, which has suffered enough through the years as it is, with all of his endless personal attacks on others and myriad other silly shenanigans.

* * *

Scott Oakland, who was connected with the posting about white on ReformedCast, is on record as refusing to alter it:

I’m having a go-round with him here. He wanted me to remove James White’s reference to his teaching at Golden Gate on podcast. When I wouldn’t, he went on the attack. He melted down pretty good as you can see from the comment string.

(comment of 3-26-11 in the combox for "Internet Stalker’s Bitterness And Vindictive Self-absorption Rots His Soul: The Sad Little Non-World Of Peter Lumpkins," by Thomas Twitchell)

There you have it! Circle the wagons and dig in, trying to defend what appears thus far to be indefensible. Now, maybe if new information comes out (a clarification from GGBTS or something), it would be different, but given what we know thus far, it looks like world-famous Mackinac Island Fudge to me.

Thomas Twitchell himself chimes in, with this classic of obscurantism (on 3-26-11):

Peter won’t give a specific person because there isn’t one. The context of the no current contract claims are not current. And it doesn’t really matter, for JW did teach there as the President admitted. Which is really the question. Is he an adjunct professor? Yes, when contracted. It is a rediculous reductionism to say that changes with the beginning of every new contract and then ends with it. You can see the self-absorption oozing out. Peter doesn’t care whether or not there is any irony, irony is what he imagines it to be. What an egotistical slob! It is as if he and his minions are sitting around drinking swill and laughing at each others gaseous releases, as if it was funny. Cute for teens, but the only reason Lumpy’s boys are laughing is that they are drunk, and can’t tell the difference between humor and vile talk and action. Everyone else sees them for what are. There isn’t any commonality between JW demanding an answer and Peter asking who TF is. Peter made an accusation, JW hasn’t. TF isn’t a material figure. The official who supposedly informed Peter is. Reasonable people think the JW teaches as an adjunct professor. And that he may or may not be under contract currently. Peter requires that an adjunct is on contract currently to be considered a teaching professor. He is wrong. And reasonable people understand that a full or part-time teacher are just that and an adjunct is something else. But no reasonable person thinks that they are not teachers. Until White is formally told that he will not be considered as any longer being employable by GSBT, a reasonable person will continue to consider him a teacher there as an adjunct professor. And White is fully justified in claim to be a teacher there. As I said, Peter is insane. He needs to apologize. But, his reality is so fractured that when he throws a rock he thinks the window he shattered needs to throw his rock back as if the window stole it.
By the way, there are no private e-mails if you are in possession of them, legally. Unless you have given your word that you will not disclose them, Peter is just a fool to send them if what he wants is anonymity. And why the secrecy, anyway? What is to hide? You know, Peter ought to rewrite his book and drink plenty of wine in the process. It would do him some good.
* * *
Comments I made on Peter Lumpkins' site:

Hi Adam [Parker],
You (and others) can play the "Caner card" all you like, but in the end, White has to explain himself. I couldn't care less, myself, about the Caner dispute, and I have been involved in the present dispute also. If anything, I would be inclined to agree with White, with what I have read about Caner. I've been writing about White and his dubious educational credentials since 2004. To me, his behavior now is all of a piece.
To the extent that Caner must keep being mentioned, it does reveal that there is a certain double standard: what White requires of others in terms of utter truthfulness, he excuses himself from. There are many aspects of White's ethics in general that are quite dubious as well: how he presents and systematically distorts the views of others who differ from him; the constant personal attacks and pettiness, his treatment of people on his webcast, violation of personal confidences (I was a victim of that in 1996, and I have seen others mention this tactic of his), his abominable public treatment of his own sister, etc.
There is much in his conduct and arguments that is highly questionable. This is just one of a long series of such things. It started long before Ergun Caner and, sadly, it looks like it will continue on for some time to come unless White repents of these things. With a rabid fan club that apparently sees nothing in the least questionable about anything he ever does, it probably won't change anytime soon. This is why accountability is so important.
If no on in White's own circle and admirers will hold him accountable, then others will have to do the task. If God could use a donkey and Nebuchadnezzar to help accomplish His will, surely He can occasionally use even detested "Romanists" and Arminians to get Baptist bishops back into line . . . :-)
* * *

Of course, it's also patently obvious that White is using the Caner issue to deflect and change the topic: a ridiculous, childish example of the "your dad's uglier than mine" canard. There are lots and lots of sins and lots of hypocrisy in the world. None of them, however, have directly to do with the question of whether White fudged and whether he got his "doctorate" from sending in Cheerios boxtops.
It reminds me of Democrats today who can't bring themselves to fault Obama for anything. What do they do? Well, they immediately blame Bush for the deficit. Everything is Bush's fault . . . So if anyone dares criticize Blessed Bishop White (who has never done anything wrong in his life, much less admit it), then they are informed that Ergun Caner is Satan incarnate, and his supporters a pack of demons, as if that has the slightest relevance to the matter at hand . . .
The only constructive thing that comes from such games is a verification that White has absolutely no defense; therefore, he and his lapdogs switch topics and obfuscate, just as the lawyer who has no case will attempt to do . . . ***

Saturday, March 26, 2011

James White's Stretching of the Truth About His (Accredited) Teaching Assignments

By Dave Armstrong (3-26-11)

* * * * *

 In a nutshell, Bishop White is stating currently that he is still teaching at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, when in fact he hasn't done so since January 2010 (a three-day seminar), and hasn't been listed on the adjunct faculty for that school since December 2008. Critics of his suspect that he does this because GGBTS is accredited. Since White yearns for academic respectability, despite having a bogus "doctorate" from an unaccredited diploma mill, this is important to him, so he fudges the facts. This is the charge. It's not a matter of life and death, but it is ethically elementary and important to be honest about things like this.

Now, the latest development today regarding my part in this controversy, is a post that appeared at Cryablogue: a site run by White comrades and fellow anti-Catholics. Evan May, one of the regular contributors there, wrote a post entitled "Consistency" (3:35 PM, 3-26-11). It's always important to document and to keep safely filed away any dealings with Tribalblogue, since posts (and especially combox comments by Catholics) can inexplicably, mysteriously disappear or be modified to hide incriminating evidences and arguments that are difficult to refute. Mine could quite possibly be removed.

But if it is allowed to remain, mocking and obfuscation and topic-changing are almost certain to follow in the combox,
since it shows I am innocent of the implied charges -- and these guys are the type that can never admit that a Catholic is right about anything. Accordingly, I've already been ridiculously mocked on the site in an absurd, clueless post by regular trash-talker Gene "Troll" Bridges, entitled "Thou Hypocrite" (3-24-11), and of course, the Grand Poobah Steve "Whopper" Hays couldn't resist his usual mindless mocking, either ("Customizing Hell," 3-27-11). I'll keep you posted!

As usual, I wasn't informed that I was mentioned in the post. Such rudimentary courtesies are exceedingly rare in the anti-Catholic blogosphere. I happened to run across it in my perusal of the usual anti-Catholic sites today.
Here is May's post in its entirety:

Since evidently Peter Lumpkins has not permitted my comment to display on his blog, I will post it here:
Dave Armstrong said:

If White would ever simply say he's sorry (as Peter noted), and messed up (like all of us have many times, being mere sinful mortals), this thing could be so over, and he would gain a lot of people's respect for such an acknowledgment.
Hey Dave,

While you're calling protestant apologists to admit their errors, do you have a similar call to repentance for Ergun Caner?


I responded as follows:

I haven't followed the Caner thing very closely (who has time for the endless Protestant internal disputes?; it takes all my time to counter Protestant theological errors), but from what I've seen, it seems that James White has raised some troubling issues about him and that he has fudged facts, just as White now appears to be doing.

I would also agree (again, from what I know about it, which isn't too much) that Caner's errors are far more serious than White's fudging about where he is currently teaching and whether he has a legitimate doctorate (he does not, of course).

That said, it doesn't follow that White should not set the record straight because Caner hasn't, nor that he should not because his fudging is probably far less than Caner's.

The attempt here is to determine hypocrisy and double standards, or inconsistency on my part (per the post title), but as you see, I am completely consistent in this instance, since I'm not a Caner advocate, and have no personal interest in how that turns out. That is Protestant controversial stuff.

I am calling for people to be honest and straightforward about themselves. I don't care if a person is a Protestant, Catholic, Buddhist monk, atheist, dog catcher. It makes no difference, since it is an elementary ethical issue upon which almost all men can agree.

The fact remains that White himself inquired (as he reported last June) as to his status at GGBTS. He knows what answer he received, but thus far has been silent about that.

One expects Bishop White to both mock and essentially ignore any critic or anyone who asks him a clarifying question. What else is new? He's been doing that with me for over 15 years now, and clearly it is his modus operandi with fellow Protestant critics as well.

(posted at 6 PM, 3-26-11)

* * *

Further exchanges in the combox at Tribalblogue:

Color code:

Evan May: blue
Matt: red
Pilgrimsarbour: purple
Matt Burke: green
Gene M. Bridges: orange
Mark | hereiblog: brown

White claims to be teaching there now, while the place itself doesn't list him in its list of adjunct faculty. It didn't as early as Dec. 2008 (over two years ago by my math). That's a disconnect. You and other White fans can try to rationalize it away all you like, but the facts of the matter are plain.

Even if you want to call White's doctoral studies at an unaccredited institution not "legitimate," White has not promoted any false information here. He has always been very open about the nature of his degree.

Of course. I acknowledged this years ago in my first critique of his degree. But it's completely beside the point. His take on degrees and the purpose of obtaining them does not somehow make a doctorate become something different from what it is. My only objection is his claiming that he has such a degree and calling himself "Dr." He wants the prestige and the honor without having done the work, and that is wrong, and ultimately dishonest. I have no objection whatever to his reasoning for doing what he did. I think it was a worthy motivation. But it is not therefore a doctorate degree because he had admirable motives in writing about the Trinity, etc. This is fundamentally relativist, liberal thinking: "hey, I had the noblest of intentions, therefore I can define terms however I want to, and whoever says I can't is a bigot and an ignoramus with nefarious motives; out to get me."

Dave, or anyone else taking exception to JW's doctorate, is not questioning his value judgment; they are questioning his degree.

Precisely. The values involved in his choice of school (taking his report at face value, as I do) were perfectly honorable; the claim to a particular degree that is not in fact a degree is dishonest and downright silly as well.

James White has, to the best of my knowledge, always been open about the nature and history of his studies. At no time, that I'm aware, did he lie and say that his doctorate is an accredited degree when it is not.

He hasn't stated that in those terms, no, I agree, but on the other hand, calling yourself "Dr." in effect does the same thing, since it is universally understood, pretty much, what is entailed in obtaining a doctorate. White simply didn't do that work; therefore he shouldn't use the title because it is a running falsehood: based on how that terminology is understood. It puts out false information. White is no more a "Dr." than I am. He has accomplished many things in apologetics (many of which I agree with when he is doing stuff other than lying about and misrepresenting Catholicism), and that ought to be sufficient for him without having to be dishonest about his credentials by using "Dr." in the way he does. He has a graduate degree from Fuller, which is an admirable thing. Why can't that be enough? The desire to falsely advertise one's accomplishments raises character questions. One might reasonably suspect a pride problem there.

How do you know his unaccredited degree program was not just as rigorous as an accredited one?

Simple: by reading his own account of what he had to do to get it; as I recall, basically writing his book, The Forgotten Trinity. That is not a doctoral dissertation; sorry. A dissertation, as I understand it (I may be wrong here, but I don't think so), is something where the person can be considered to know as much or more than anyone in the world on the topic they choose to treat in the dissertation.

To claim this about The Forgotten Trinity would be an absolute joke: laughed out of any accredited doctoral program in the world.

A Master's level education is all that is required to teach as an adjunct faculty member at an SBC seminary.

I'm not aware of anyone denying this, who is raising questions about White. I certainly don't, since this (I would think) is common knowledge. It's not the issue at hand at all.

And it isn't as if Dave Armstrong has an qualifications whatsoever to level complaints in that regard.

One doesn't himself have to have something (or experience something) to know the proper definition of it. I no more have to have a doctorate to know what it is and what is required to get it than I have to have an abortion to know what that is. Bridges uses the same clueless reasoning that pro-aborts do: saying that men can't talk about abortion, etc.

Apparently, White has demonstrated his abilities to those at GGBTS. His relationship with the school and students have always been good.

Great. This has nothing whatever to do with Lumpkins' critique or my own.

While White's doctorate may be unaccredited it does not mean he did not do any work for them.

No one is saying that, either. What we are saying is that, while he did work and toiled away, this does not make x=y. What he did is simply not anywhere near the amount of work or the rigorous standard entailed in legitimate doctorates. He has no basis for calling himself "Dr." I know this probably pains his ego tremendously, but life is tough. We can't make up our own definitions of things. It doesn't work that way.

Whatever one thinks of the quality of White's work, he did not just buy a degree.

Who said this? I'd like to see a quote if you think Lumpkins did. I haven't said it. On the other hand he did register at a diploma mill and jumped through the necessary hoops to get the bogus degree.

Well Dave, had I been addressing your points I would have mentioned your name. I was, instead, replying to Matt and expanding my thought to some more general issues concerning accreditation, qualifications, etc.

So please read your own reply of "who said this?" because I was not "saying that" toward what you referenced. Please try to keep me in context.

My replies remain valid. You made some points; I replied to them. Lumpkins and myself are the two main critics researching this matter at present. I myself was the subject of the post under which this discussion is occurring. So it is relevant for me to say that I (as one of the main critics) have not claimed what you have said White critics have claimed; nor, to my knowledge, has Peter Lumpkins.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Biblical Evidence for Prayers of the Righteous Having More Effect and Power

By Dave  Armstrong (3-23-11)

Protestants often assert that all prayers are exactly the same under God: that whoever prays has the same impact as anyone else, regardless of the level of holiness and righteousness in the person. Just the other day in a dialogue with a Protestant, my opponent stated, "God does not answer prayers based on who is praying. God answers prayers based on whether they are asked according to His will (1 John 5:14-15)." The second sentence is true but the first is not, and, moreover, the first doesn't follow from the truth of the second. They are two distinct propositions.

This is the usual sort of egalitarianism erroneously smuggled into biblical Christianity, for the Bible paints a far different picture. Protestants don't care for any notion of merit achieved (by God's grace, but with our "synergistic" cooperation) on the part of the believer: we're all equally fallen, equally (utterly) wicked sinners, etc. This is especially true in the case of Calvinism.

All of this clashes with the Bible. God's inspired revelation repeatedly states that prayers of holy people are far more powerful and that God is more inclined to answer them. Once this is grasped, and once it is understood that saints who are in heaven are aware of us and can and do pray and intercede for us, then the Catholic rationale for asking saints (above all, the Blessed Virgin Mary) to intercede is made abundantly clear as an eminently biblical practice.

Many Protestants, however, almost despite their theology, do indeed recognize that this is the case: at least insofar as other people now living on the earth are concerned, since they will ask pastors to pray for them, thinking that this will help them more than asking the next person in the pew to do so. I always use the example of a Protestant asking Billy Graham to pray for them. This is so because Billy Graham is respected as a man of God and is considered to be a person who is closer to God; therefore his prayers have more effect. That is exactly correct . . .

All passages RSV.

* * * * *

Genesis 18:22-32 So the men turned from there, and went toward Sodom; but Abraham still stood before the LORD. [23] Then Abraham drew near, and said, "Wilt thou indeed destroy the righteous with the wicked? [24] Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt thou then destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? [25] Far be it from thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" [26] And the LORD said, "If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake." [27] Abraham answered, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. [28] Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking? Wilt thou destroy the whole city for lack of five?" And he said, "I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there." [29] Again he spoke to him, and said, "Suppose forty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of forty I will not do it." [30] Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there." He answered, "I will not do it, if I find thirty there." [31] He said, "Behold, I have taken upon myself to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there." He answered, "For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it." [32] Then he said, "Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there." He answered, "For the sake of ten I will not destroy it."

Genesis 20:7 Now then restore the man's wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you, and you shall live. . . .

Numbers 11:1-2 And the people complained in the hearing of the LORD about their misfortunes; and when the LORD heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. [2] Then the people cried to Moses; and Moses prayed to the LORD, and the fire abated.

Numbers 14:11-20 And the LORD said to Moses, "How long will this people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs which I have wrought among them? [12] I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them, and I will make of you a nation greater and mightier than they." [13] But Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear of it, for thou didst bring up this people in thy might from among them, [14] and they will tell the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that thou, O LORD, art in the midst of this people; for thou, O LORD, art seen face to face, and thy cloud stands over them and thou goest before them, in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. [15] Now if thou dost kill this people as one man, then the nations who have heard thy fame will say, [16] `Because the LORD was not able to bring this people into the land which he swore to give to them, therefore he has slain them in the wilderness.' [17] And now, I pray thee, let the power of the LORD be great as thou hast promised, saying, [18] `The LORD is slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of fathers upon children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation.' [19] Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray thee, according to the greatness of thy steadfast love, and according as thou hast forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now." [20] Then the LORD said, "I have pardoned, according to your word;

Numbers 21:6-8 Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. [7] And the people came to Moses, and said, "We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us." So Moses prayed for the people. [8] And the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live."

Deuteronomy 9:18-20 Then I lay prostrate before the LORD as before, forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all the sin which you had committed, in doing what was evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger. [19] For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure which the LORD bore against you, so that he was ready to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened to me that time also. [20] And the LORD was so angry with Aaron that he was ready to destroy him; and I prayed for Aaron also at the same time.

Deuteronomy 10:10 I stayed on the mountain, as at the first time, forty days and forty nights, and the LORD hearkened to me that time also; the LORD was unwilling to destroy you.

1 Samuel 7:8 And the people of Israel said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry to the LORD our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines."

1 Samuel 12:18-19 So Samuel called upon the LORD, and the LORD sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel. [19] And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the LORD your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king."

1 Kings 13:6 And the king said to the man of God, "Entreat now the favor of the LORD your God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored to me." And the man of God entreated the LORD; and the king's hand was restored to him, and became as it was before.

1 Kings 17:1 Now Eli'jah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." (cf. Jas 5:17-18)

1 Kings 17:17-24 After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; and his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. [18] And she said to Eli'jah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" [19] And he said to her, "Give me your son." And he took him from her bosom, and carried him up into the upper chamber, where he lodged, and laid him upon his own bed. [20] And he cried to the LORD, "O LORD my God, hast thou brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?" [21] Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this child's soul come into him again." [22] And the LORD hearkened to the voice of Eli'jah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. [23] And Eli'jah took the child, and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Eli'jah said, "See, your son lives." [24] And the woman said to Eli'jah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."

2 Kings 1:10 But Eli'jah answered the captain of fifty, "If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty." Then fire came down from heaven, and consumed him and his fifty.

2 Kings 4:32-37 When Eli'sha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. [33] So he went in and shut the door upon the two of them, and prayed to the LORD. [34] Then he went up and lay upon the child, putting his mouth upon his mouth, his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands; and as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. [35] Then he got up again, and walked once to and fro in the house, and went up, and stretched himself upon him; the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. [36] Then he summoned Geha'zi and said, "Call this Shu'nammite." So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, "Take up your son." [37] She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground; then she took up her son and went out.

2 Kings 6:17-18 Then Eli'sha prayed, and said, "O LORD, I pray thee, open his eyes that he may see." So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Eli'sha. [18] And when the Syrians came down against him, Eli'sha prayed to the LORD, and said, "Strike this people, I pray thee, with blindness." So he struck them with blindness in accordance with the prayer of Eli'sha.

2 Chronicles 30:18-20 For a multitude of the people, many of them from E'phraim, Manas'seh, Is'sachar, and Zeb'ulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezeki'ah had prayed for them, saying, "The good LORD pardon every one [19] who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary's rules of cleanness." [20] And the LORD heard Hezeki'ah, and healed the people.

Job 42:8-9 Now therefore take seven bulls and seven rams, and go to my servant Job, and offer up for yourselves a burnt offering; and my servant Job shall pray for you, for I will accept his prayer not to deal with you according to your folly; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has." [9] So Eli'phaz the Te'manite and Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Na'amathite went and did what the LORD had told them; and the LORD accepted Job's prayer.

Proverbs 15:8 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is his delight.

Proverbs 15:29 The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayer of the righteous.

Proverbs 28:9 If one turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.

Isaiah 1:15 When you spread forth your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.

Jeremiah 15:1 Then the LORD said to me, "Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people. Send them out of my sight, and let them go!" [in other words, this is an exception to the rule; normally great intercessors like Moses and Samuel would suffice to save whole peoples]

Jeremiah 37:3 King Zedeki'ah sent Jehu'cal the son of Shelemi'ah, and Zephani'ah the priest, the son of Ma-asei'ah, to Jeremiah the prophet, saying, "Pray for us to the LORD our God."

Jeremiah 42:1-4 Then all the commanders of the forces, and Joha'nan the son of Kare'ah and Azari'ah the son of Hoshai'ah, and all the people from the least to the greatest, came near [2] and said to Jeremiah the prophet, "Let our supplication come before you, and pray to the LORD your God for us, for all this remnant (for we are left but a few of many, as your eyes see us), [3] that the LORD your God may show us the way we should go, and the thing that we should do." [4] Jeremiah the prophet said to them, "I have heard you; behold, I will pray to the LORD your God according to your request, and whatever the LORD answers you I will tell you; I will keep nothing back from you."

Ezekiel 14:19-20 Or if I send a pestilence into that land, and pour out my wrath upon it with blood, to cut off from it man and beast; [20] even if Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live, says the Lord GOD, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver but their own lives by their righteousness. [another exception to the rule that prayers of the righteous are sufficient and efficient in their purpose, as in Jer 15:1 above]

Tobit 12:8 Prayer is good when accompanied by fasting, almsgiving, and righteousness. . . .

Sirach 28:2 Forgive your neighbor the wrong he has done, and then your sins will be pardoned when you pray.

Sirach 35:16 He whose service is pleasing to the Lord will be accepted, and his prayer will reach to the clouds.

Matthew 21:22 And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.

Mark 11:24-25 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. [25] And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against any one; so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

Acts 9:36-41 Now there was at Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. [37] In those days she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. [38] Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him entreating him, "Please come to us without delay." [39] So Peter rose and went with them. And when he had come, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping, and showing tunics and other garments which Dorcas made while she was with them. [40] But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; then turning to the body he said, "Tabitha, rise." And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. [41] And he gave her his hand and lifted her up. Then calling the saints and widows he presented her alive. (cf. Matt 10:8)

Acts 20:9-10 And a young man named Eu'tychus was sitting in the window. He sank into a deep sleep as Paul talked still longer; and being overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. [10] But Paul went down and bent over him, and embracing him said, "Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him."

1 Timothy 2:8 I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling;

James 1:5-8 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. [6] But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. [7, 8] For that person must not suppose that a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways, will receive anything from the Lord.

James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

James 5:14-18 Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; [15] and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. [16] Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. [17] Eli'jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. [18] Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit. (cf. 1 Ki 17:1)

1 Peter 3:12 For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.

1 John 3:21-22 Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; [22] and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Dialogue with a Protestant on the Communion of Saints (vs. Angel Manuel Negron)

By Dave Armstrong (3-19-11)

This exchange occurred today on a Facebook page (not my own). My attention was directed to a person who was making all kinds of statements against the Catholic Church and challenging anyone to give him Scripture to prove Catholic views. Well, that is my specialty, so I took the opportunity. As you can see, the person made himself scarce in short order. What else is new, when a Catholic apologist offers a reply? It's the same old same old. There's no dialogue to be had, once a person decides that his own man-made tradition is a priority above Holy Scripture. Angel's words will be in blue.

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When Jesus was walking in the New Testament – He specifically told us that we are to pray direct to God the Father if we have any specific needs that must be met.

He did tell us that, but you are making an additional assumption that is untrue: that something Jesus said would prevent us from asking a saint in heaven to help us in interceding to God on our behalf.

There is not one verse that I am aware of where He told us that we could also pray direct to dead saints.

That's correct, though there are many thing not explicitly laid out in the NT. For example, there is no example of prayer to the Holy Spirit, either, but we know it is permissible because He is God. And we know He intercedes for us, as the Bible says. But there is direct evidence that the saints in heaven pray for us:

Revelation 5:8 (RSV) And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints;

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

If God the Father wanted this possibility as an option, then I believe Jesus would have specifically told us so in the New Testament – but He did not!

You have to put two and two together: just as in the doctrine of the Trinity. The data is in the Bible, and more than sufficient. See my paper: "Biblical Evidence For Invocation of Angels For Intercessory Purposes / Asking For Dead Men's Intercession, and Their Prayers For Us."

If the 24 elders and the angels in heaven possess the "prayers of the saints" then obviously they had to get them somehow, and the most sensible explanation is that they were asked to intercede and they did so, as these passages state.

That is tradition of man for there is no Biblical basis for that doctrine. If so give me the verse.

The tradition of man here is sola Scriptura and the silly notion that absolutely everything Christians believe must be explicitly laid out in the Bible. There is no Bible passage that says that, so it is a tradition of man if there ever was one. Nor is there any passage that lists the books of the Bible. The canon is an extrabiblical doctrine and tradition that requires Church authority to accept. But all Catholic doctrine is completely consistent and harmonious with Scripture.

I have provided several dozen passages in my paper linked to above. Now you show us where the Bible teaches that every truth has to specifically be backed up by a Bible proof text. I'll save you the trouble. You can't do it. No Protestant ever has in my dozens of dialogues on the topic over 15 years on the Internet. I'll guarantee that you won't be the first, but give it a shot if you are so confident in your man-made tradition of sola Scriptura: one that began 15 centuries after Christ with Martin Luther.

This says it clearly, NO ONE can intercede for you who is dead. Jesus is the ONLY ONE period.

That's sheer nonsense. Revelation 6:9-11 describes dead saints (martyrs who had been killed because they proclaimed the gospel) praying that the wicked would be judged (what is known as an imprecatory prayer):

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; [10] they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?" [11] Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.

What do you think people are doing in heaven, anyway? Floating on clouds and playing harps? They are far more alive than we are; they are perfectly holy (which one has to be to enter heaven), and so they express their love for us by praying.

Jesus is our ONLY mediator for He is not dead but is alive. I Timothy 2.5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

I see. So now you're saying that Jesus didn't die? If He didn't die, then He couldn't have died in atonement for our sins, which means that no one can be saved. So He did die, and so did the saints. Just as Jesus is still alive, so are the saints. It's called the afterlife, the immortality of the soul. And we also get resurrected in due course, too (the general resurrection). This is rather elementary scriptural stuff. But if you think people are unconscious after death or annihilated (as some cults do) then you would come up with your view that they can't and don't pray for us, as if they are sitting around twiddling their thumbs for eternity or playing chess or something. We certainly know that they are very aware of what is going on on earth, from several passages, such as Hebrews 12:1 and many passages in Revelation. Moses and Elijah even appeared on earth again in the Transfiguration. Samuel came back to earth and spoke to Saul and predicted his impending death.

That is not Biblical. Saints do not ask for His pardon on our behalf. That is our choice. Please give me the verse so that I may study your opinion. I said nothing about men other than the fact that the church as you put it teaches traditions of men that are not found in the scriptures. All I am asking is for you to prove your beliefs based on the scriptures for if GOD SAID it show me but if a 'pope' said it who is nothing but a man than as the Word says traditions of man makes the Word void.

I have given more than enough support. Now you need to do the same thing. You not only have an unbiblical doctrine (sola Scriptura) but you base your entire theology and interpretation of Scripture based on a man-made tradition that is not found there at all: which is doubly dangerous: creating man-made doctrines based on a man-made false and unbiblical, extrabiblical principle. Nor is salvation by faith alone a biblical doctrine. The only time the Bible discusses faith alone, it states that salvation is not by faith alone (in James).

Matthew 15:9 "And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." ‎"I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me" John 14:6 This is what Jesus said. See how he said ONLY through HIM. That means no one else can intercede for us before God. Jesus is our ONLY Advocate! That of "saints" interceding for us is nothing but a lie invented by manipulators who want to keep people in ignorance.

Again, you show yourself to be thinking illogically and distorting what Holy Scripture says. This is talking about salvation, not intercession. No one is saved except through Jesus. You collapse the two into one category. I already showed how Scripture itself shows dead saints praying to God, that He would judge the wicked. They were interceding on behalf of the persecuted Christians on earth. Other passages show dead men and angels with the prayers of the saints, that they then present to God. I can't think of a more graphic depiction of intercession than that. Somehow they have these prayers. They are mini-mediators and intercessors. The prayers didn't just go right to God: they went to and through these intercessors.

You say no one else can intercede before God except Jesus (Who is God). But you foolishly forget that the Holy Spirit (Who is God, too) also does this (not just Jesus):

Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.[27] And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

Ecclesiastes 9:5-6 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even their name is forgotten. [6] Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.

Now it's beginning to look like you deny the immortality of the soul, which is rank heresy. This is a proof text used by the Jehovah's Witnesses. I answered it almost 30 years ago in researching their errors.

If the first clause (of 9:5) is understood in an absolute sense, then so must the second clause be interpreted. Thus, the dead would have no "reward" as well as no consciousness. This would deny the resurrection and the rewarding of the righteous (see Rev 20:11-13, 21:6-7, 22:12, 14). Obviously, then, a qualification of some sort has to be placed on Ecc 9:5. In the very next verse, we learn that: "never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun."

In other words, from the perspective of this world, the dead know nothing, but they are in a different realm, where they do know something. As further examples of this limited sense of "not knowing anything" in Scripture, see 1 Sam 20:39 and 2 Sam 15:11, where an interpretation of unconsciousness would be ridiculous.

You have been taught that a saint, who is glorified in Heaven, has more "direct access" to God than we do but this concept is blatantly unbiblical. Hebrews 4:16 tells us that we, believers here on earth, can "...approach the throne of grace with confidence..."

Again you show a rather dim comprehension of Holy Scripture. Have you never read the Apostle Paul?:

1 Corinthians 13:12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.

This is the Beatific Vision: face to face with God. We don't yet have that. We can pray to God directly, yes. But you are being unbiblical again insofar as you question that a saint with face-to-face proximity to God doesn't have more direct access to Him than we do. Heaven is different than earth! One would think this is self-evident, but you don't grasp it, for some reason.

You guys argue that praying to Mary and the saints is no different than asking someone here on earth to pray for you. Let us examine that claim. (1) The Apostle Paul asks other Christians to pray for him in Ephesians 6:19. Many Scriptures describe believers praying for one another (2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:19; 2 Timothy 1:3). The Bible nowhere mentions anyone asking for someone in Heaven to pray for them.The Bible nowhere mentions anyone asking for someone in Heaven to pray for them. The Bible nowhere describes anyone in Heaven praying for anyone on earth. (2) The Bible gives absolutely no indication that Mary or the saints can hear our prayers. Mary and the saints are not omniscient.

The Bible shows saints being very aware of our activities, like spectators in an arena:

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,

The Bible states that the angels rejoice whenever a sinner repents:

Luke 15:10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.

How do they know this? It's because they observe the earth. The Bible gives many instances of dead men coming to earth, such as the ones that rose after the crucifixion and walked around Jerusalem, and Samuel, and Moses and Elijah at the Transfiguration. When we die we'll be in a higher state than angels, so we will have knowledge as they do, given to us by God. Omniscience has nothing to do with it. A being need not have that capability in order to hear a prayer. Saints are outside of time because they are in eternity. Therefore they can hear millions of prayers, since time is not a barrier.

How could they possibly hear the prayers of millions of people? Only God is Omnipresent, Omnipotent, Omniscient. All those teachings you've learned are nothing but an insult to God Father, God Son and God Holy Spirit. God does not answer prayers based on who is praying. God answers prayers based on whether they are asked according to His will (1 John 5:14-15). There is absolutely no basis or need to pray to anyone other than God alone. There is no basis for asking those who are in Heaven to pray for us.

For someone who quotes the Bible so much, you sure are unaware of so many of its teachings. It certainly does make a difference who prays a prayer:

James 5:16-18 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects. [17] Eli'jah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. [18] Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit.

Elijah's prayers had more effect because he was more righteous. This is why we ask saints to pray for us, because they are perfected in righteousness in heaven, and their prayers have more effect, like Elijah's.

Only God can hear our prayers.

The Bible never states this. It is a tradition of men, like several other of your falsehoods. The Bible states the opposite. In Jesus' parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16), one dead guy (the rich man) is praying to another dead guy (Abraham), asking him to help. So now you accuse Jesus of bad theology and promulgating "Catholic" lies in His own parables? Actually, it is believed that this is not a parable at all, but a true story. In either case, Jesus' teaching could not contain falsehood (unless you deny that He is God, in addition to your other errors).

With due respect Dave, When I stated that Jesus is alive is because He resurrected. He is not dead!! In regards Jesus is Advocate, . . . I leave you all with Today's Sunday School lesson, everything I stated didn't come from me, that is GOD'S WORD. If you don't agree, argue with Him. I pray that your spiritual ears may be sensitive to His Voice! God bless!

Why don't you answer my arguments? Or is it time to split now after someone gave you a bunch of Scripture, as you requested? You said Jesus was not dead. I said He died, too, just like we do. As He is alive, so are human beings after they die, since death is no annihilation but separation of body and soul. The saints are alive, too, in other words. Your logic is very shoddy, and your biblical exegesis even worse. It's a serious thing to teach falsehood and claim to be presenting what the Bible teaches, but spewing falsehood. You will stand accountable to God for this. You may choose to run from here when confronted, but you can't run from God.

I gave far more from GOD'S WORD than you did, and moreover, I gave counter-arguments to all your supposed proof texts. Now your choice is to do the same if you truly value what all of God's Inspired Revelation teaches, or flee for the hills.

Who ever doesn't know that Jehova, Jesus and The Holy Spirit are One is ignorant, please don't try to read between lines, that's childish.

You claimed that only Jesus interceded for us. I showed that the Holy Spirit also did so, and they are two distinct Divine Persons, though both God. Your statement was false. You also spoke falsehood when you said that no one else interceded for us, since I showed from three passages in Revelation that this is not the case at all.

If you would simply believe all of Scripture rather than the pet proof texts that you have been fed, you'd be all set.

But as is stated in God's Word, the Word of God is not to argue,

Paul is described on several occasions as reasoning and arguing and disputing with the Jews and pagans alike. Jesus often argued. We are commanded to contend earnestly for the faith [Jude 3] and to "stand ready to make a defense" [1 Peter 3:15]. That is what I am doing. It's easy to preach as you've been doing and not interact with criticisms when others give them. But if you really have the truth you can defend it against criticisms. Thus, again, your choice is to do that (grapple with all the Scripture you've been given) or run . . .

The ignorance you show about scripture is sufficient. No words need be said especially when you state that I said Jesus did not die for our sins. Have a blessed day my friend.

Of course I didn't say that is what you yourself believe. I used what is called a reductio ad absurdum argument: taking a person's false premise and showing that it leads to (or reduces logically to) absurdity because it is itself false. But it's quite obvious that you understand my arguments as little as you understand proper Scriptural exegesis and Catholicism. We all have to learn things. There is no shame in that. The time for you to learn is now. Don't put it off! This experience will indicate to you whether you are willing to follow all of Scripture wherever it leads, or to follow the opinions of men even when they contradict Scripture.