Thursday, May 29, 2008

Clearing up a HUGE misunderstanding.

Last night before heading for bed I dropped by James White’s chatroom (#proapologian) to see if the gentleman I had met back on the 23rd was there. I am referring to Kenneth R. Guindon. Ken was brought to my attention by a lady in the chatroom named Ann (for her very interesting story see HERE). Ann brought up Ken due to the fact that I had been giving her a brief history of my journey into the Catholic Church. During that process, I told Ann that I am still, in a very real sense, a “seeker of truth”, and that I have been having some doubts about my entrance into the RCC. It turns out Ken’s story is quite similar to my own (thought certainly more interesting!). Ken’s name ‘rang-a-bell’ in my head, for I had a book in my library written by a Kenneth R. Guindon; the book, The King’s Highway (Igantius Press, 1996), is the story of a Catholic who became a dedicated Jehovah’s Witness for 17 years (serving at the headquarters in Brooklyn, and then as a fulltime missionary to Africa), who later had a born-again experience, and became a Baptist missionary. He then relates the experiences that led to his reentry back to the RCC on 09/10/87. But his story does not end here, Ken then became Eastern Orthodox, and just recently Plymouth Brethren! Anyway, I have had the pleasure of communicating with Ken via email and phone; he is truly a very fascinating man.

Back to last night. Ken was not in the chatroom, but James White and Ann were. Ann out of nowhere told me that she thought that I had deceived her with the story I had related back on the 23rd. Truth be known, that came as a real shock, for I had in all sincerity opened my heart up to her with my story, and doubts. (Keep in mind the room was full of individuals who have spent a lot of time defending Reformed theology against Catholicism, including David King who is extremely bitter towards me, though I still don’t fully understand why.) The basic tone of the room became that I was being dishonest (no actual example given), and that I should probably leave the room. But, I was there for sincere reasons, not only did I want to chat with Ken again, I also wanted to discuss some of the things I had been reading in Bavinck’s newly released 4th volume of his Reformed Dogmatics.

After leaving the chatroom, I went to Ann’s blog and typed up what I was feeling/thinking at the time (HERE). The following are my exact words:


I looked for your email, but could not find it on your blog, so thought that this thread, “Trust”, would be appropriate, and the next best option, to express my thoughts to you.

I was deeply, and sincerely troubled by your comments earlier today in the #prosapologian chatroom. I say this because I meant EVERYTHING from the depths of my soul that I communicated to you the first time we chatted.

My only intent at this point is to make it very clear to you that one can be open to the possibility that their paradigm/worldview choice may have been wrong, while at the same time, asking tough questions of those who differ with that choice.

If I have offended you, I apologize, and ask you as a brother in Christ to forgive me. In return, all I ask for is that you step into my shoes but for a brief moment and reflect on what I conveyed to you in our first chat session. I meant everything I said in that chat session, and at the same time, I stand behind everything I have written in my blog; in my heart of hearts, I do not believe that there is any conflict here, for if I become convinced by charitable, reasoned dialogue that anything I have written is false, I will immediately, without reservation, recant.Anyway, need to get some rest; will type up that thread I promised to you tomorrow.

God bless,

David (Auggie)

I sincerely hope that this post clears up any misunderstandings. If any interested parties have any questions, please feel free to ask away.

Grace and peace,


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TurretinFan to the rescue…

After typing up three quick posts this morning in response to comments made in a couple of different threads (including an older one on Islam), I had to drive my wife to the hospital for some tests (all were negative—in the good sense). When I finally got back home I checked the comboxes to see if there had been any further communication and noticed that I had missed that there was a link at the end of the comments section of the May 27th, 2008 thread, which takes one to THIS THREAD at TurretinFan’s blog.

I would make my comments to TurretinFan’s new thread (hereafter TF) in his blog’s combox, but my submitted musings rarely get posted; so, rather than waste time, I am going to respond here at AF.

TF provides his readers the Khaled Anatolis English translation of the Athanansius quote that I typed up in my previous thread, introducing it with:

Recently, David Waltz provided the following alleged quotation from Athanasius, which immediately caught my attention…”

Now, I have NO idea why TF thinks that it is an “alleged quotation from Athanasius”. I am not aware of any scholar who doubts that the quotation is from Athanasius himself; and curiously enough, even William (Bill) Webster, who TF later invokes, does not challenge the quote’s authenticity.

TF then proceeds to state the obvious, that Antolis used Migne’s Patrologiæ Græca (26.593, 594) as the source for his English translation, providing a snippet from Google Books (with the appropriate links).

TF then remarks:

I'm not saying that Anatolis' translation is bad - just not strictly literal. Taken within the broader context of what is being said, the translation is not necessarily bad. Taken out of context, though the translation is misleading. For the word "Scripture" - which is emphasized in Waltz's argument - is not a word emphasized by Athanasius. Instead, it has been supplied to help the flow of the text by the translator. It's really aimed at distinguishing the previous Scriptural statements about the Holy Spirit himself from the following about the Trinity. For within the same section (28) Athanasius immediately turns to Ephesians 4:6, Exodus 3:14, and Romans 9:5 - and concludes by establishing what the faith of the Church is by quoting the Lord's words from Matthew 28:19. It is the baptismal formula and Ephesians 4:6 (over all, through all, in [you] all) that Athanasius calls the foundation of the Church's faith (see the first part of section 29).Thus, I think we have to conclude that Waltz's tag line for the above quotation from Athanasius ("BTW, in the many citations that James provided in his essay from the corpus of Athanasius, he conviently [sic] left out this one") was a bit misleading at best - for Athanasius not only was saying nothing contrary to Scripture - he was simply turning from one set of Scriptural doctrines to another.
TF is correct on two points: first, Anatolis’ English is not “literal”; and second, taken “within the broader context of what is being said, the translation is not necessarily bad.” As for the rest, IMHO, TF has misread Athanasius (as has Bill Webster), by reading post-Reformation doctrine back into his writings.

Here is some of the “broader context”:

Taken even by themselves, these [scriptural] sayings about the Holy Spirit demonstrate that it has nothing in common with or proper (idom) to the nature or essence of creatures, but that it is other than originated beings and belongs to (idom) and is not foreign to the being and divinity of the Son, through which it belongs to the Holy Trinity. This puts their senselessness to same.

Moreover, aside from these scriptural utterances, let us also consider the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, that which the Lord has given, the apostles preached, and the fathers [596A] guarded. This is the foundation on which the Church is established, and the one who strays form it is not a Christian and should no longer be called so: The Trinity is holy perfect, confessed as God in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, having nothing foreign or extrinsic mingled with it , nor compounded of creator and created, but is wholly Creator and Maker. It is identical with itself and indivisible in nature, and its activity (energia) is one. For the Father does all things through the Word and in the Holy Spirit. Thus the oneness of the Holy Trinity is preserved and thus is the one God “who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:6) preached in the Church – “over all,” as Father, who is beginning (archē) and fountain; “through all,” through the Son; and “in all” in the Holy Spirit. It is Trinity [596B] not only in name and linguistic expression, but Trinity in reality and truth. Just as the Father is the “One who is” (Ex. 3:14), so likewise is his Word the “One who is, God over all” (Rom. 9:5). Nor is the Holy Spirit non-existent, but truly exists and subsists
.” (Athanasius, Epistola I Ad Serapion – English trans. by Khaled Anatolis, Athanasius, Routledge: London, 2004, p. 227.)

Anatolis could have put brackets around the second usage of “scriptural” in 1.28 as he did in its first use towards the end of 1.27; however, Anatolis wanted to make it clear that a distinction was being made between “these scriptural utterances” (numerous citations from the OT, NT and the book of Wisdom!!!), and “the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning.”

Now, what TF and Bill Webster want their readers to believe is that Athanasius was instead saying this: “aside from these scriptural utterances, let us also consider some more scriptural utterances”.
Sorry guys, that just will not fly. Though Athanasius’ regula fidei (i.e. “the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning”) was certainly based on Sacred Scripture, and supported by Scripture texts, the regula fidei itself was not Scripture.

The patristic scholars I quoted (in my previous thread), prior to the citation from Athanasius, clearly understand this fact, but TF, Bill Webster, James White, and a few other Protestant polemicists completely miss it (I will let my readers ponder the why for themselves.)

And further, many of the scholars that Bill Webster selectively quotes from in the book referenced by TF (Holy Scripture - The Ground and Pillar of our Faith – Vol. 2), actually concur with scholars I quoted, contra Bill. Tomorrow, the Lord willing, I will provide numerous citations to support this, but for now R.P.C. Hanson will suffice:

Perhaps the most important aspect of the rule of faith is that it gives us what the Church conceived to be ‘the main body of truth’ (to use Irenaeus’ phrase). The Scriptures are, after all, a body of documents testifying to God’s activity towards men in Christ. They are not a rule of faith, nor a list of doctrines, nor a manual of the articles of a Christian man’s belief. In the rule of faith we have a key to what the Church thought the Scriptures came to, where it was, so to speak, that their weight fell, what was their drift. This interpretation of their drift was itself tradition, a way of handling the Scriptures, a way of living in them and being exposed to their effect, which, while not an original part of the Christian Gospel, not itself the paradosis par excellence, had been developed from the Gospel itself, from its heart, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as an essential part of the existence of the Christian faith in history

We cannot recognize the rule of faith as original tradition, going back by oral continuity independently of Scripture to Christ and his apostles. But we can recognize it as the tradition in which the Church was interpreting Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and as such claim it as an essential ingredient of historical Christianity
.” (Tradition In The Early Church, pp. 128, 129.)

Grace and peace,


P.S. Want to thank TF once again for catching my typos.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The 05/22/08 Dividing Line webcast - part 2.

I had little time over the extended Memorial Day weekend to spend on internet related issues, so I had to wait until this morning for the second installment of my treatment of the 05/22/08 The Dividing Line webcast. In the first installment, I dealt with the charges that James had leveled against D.H. Williams’ comments concerning Athanasius and Liberius; in this second thread, I shall address James’ basic contention concerning Athansius’ use of tradition. Rather than typing up excerpts from the webcast, I shall instead refer directly to James’ own essay (“Sola Scriptura and the Early Church”, in Sola Scriptura! - 1995) which formed the basis for James’ argumentation.

In his essay, James argues that: “Sola scriptura has long been the rule of believing Christian people, even before it became necessary to use the specific terminology against later innovators who would usurp the Scriptures supremacy in the church.” (Page 53.)

Here James is making the claim that early Church Fathers (such as Irenaeus, Augustine and Athanasius) believed in, and taught the doctrine of sola scriptura. This by default means that according to James’ assessment, the above mentioned Church Fathers believed and taught that: 1.) the Scriptures are the only infallible rule of faith; 2.) the Scriptures are not only materially sufficient, but also formally sufficient (i.e. the doctrine of perspicuity); 3.) the doctrine many of the early Church Fathers on the relationship between Scripture and tradition was essentially the same as the Reformers doctrine.

But is this the case? In five previous threads on this blog (HERE) I have touched on various aspects concerning the doctrine of sola scriptura. Also, since the inception of the this blog I have provided an excerpt (on the right-hand sidebar), from one of the most important essays on Scripture and tradition ever penned—A.N.S. Lane’s “Scripture, Tradition and Church: An Historical Survey” (for the entire essay GO HERE). All of this material suggests otherwise. But, there is much more, so in a sincere hope to put to rest the view that sola scriptura was taught by many of the early Church Fathers, I shall now provide even more evidence.

Lane’s essay forcefully argues for the position that he has termed “the coincidence view” as representative of the early Church. In other words, “Scripture and tradition coincide”; “Apostolic tradition is authoritative but does not differ from in content from the Scriputres”; the “teaching of the church is likewise authoritative but is only the proclamation of the apostolic message found in Scripture and tradition”; “the Holy Spirit preserves the church from error and leads her into the truth” (page 39). And further: “Scripture is materially sufficient (it contains all that is necessary) but formally insufficient (it needs an intpereter)”; “Tradition is necessary because heretics from Novation to Nestorius have misinterpreted Scripture”; but, “while tradition is the test to be applied to novelty which arises in the church and claims to be scriptural it should not be imagined that this test can be used to question the authoritative decisions of the church” (page 40).

One can immediately discern that Lane does not believe that the early Church maintained a belief in sola scritpura, for formal sufficiency (one of the necessary ingredients of the ‘traditional’ Protestant view) was denied.

And Lane is not only scholar who espouses this view. I have already invoked Dr. Williams, here are a few more examples:

In the ante-Nicene Church, the notion of sola Scriptura does not exist. But then there is also no notion of a tradition which is superior to Scripture, or which alters the essential content of the apostolic message as it is deposited in Scripture. There is simply no way of imagining possible conflict between the Christian Scripture and the Christian tradition—and, therefore, no necessity to choose between them.” (Albert Outler, “The Sense of Tradition in the Ante-Nicene Church”, in The Heritage of Christian Thought: Essays in Honor of Robert Lowery Calhoun, edited by Cushman and Grislis: New York, N. Y., 1965, p.29)

The fathers of the church spoke as they did because they regarded themselves as interpreters of the Scriptures. Therefore they are not to be made a substitute for the Scriptures; nor can the Scriptures be understood apart from the authoritative interpretation which tradition places upon them...if tradition is primitive, Protestant theology must admit that ‘Scripture alone’ requires redefinition.” (Jaroslav Pelikan, Obedient Rebels, Harper & Row: New York, N. Y., 1964, p. 180.)

“Along with total commitment to the Scriptures as the norm of all doctrine, a new and clear conviction concerning the authority of oral tradition began to develop. This oral tradition, handed down from generation to generation and going back through the apostles directly to Christ, in no way conflicted with the Scriptures. But it did aid the church in interpreting the Scriptures and particularly in summarizing the Christian faith and thus protecting Christians against the aberrations of Gnostics and heretics. To Tertullian and Irenaeus, who developed this position, such apostolic tradition, which faithfully transmitted Christ’s teaching, was, like Scripture, infallible.” (Robert D. Preus, “The View of the Bible Held by the Church: The Early Church Through Luther”, in Inerrancy, edited by Norman Geisler, Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI, 1980, p. 359)

The divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as opposed to human writings; and the oral tradition or living faith of the catholic church from the apostles down, as opposed tothe varying opinions of heretical sects—together form one infallible source and rule of faith. Both are vehicles of the same substance: the saving revelation of God in Christ; with this difference in form and office, that the church tradition determines the canon, furnishes the key and true interpretation of the Scriptures, and guards them against heretical abuse.” (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI, 1981 ed., vol. 3, p. 606)

What was new here? Not the idea that the Bible, being God-given, speaks with God’s authority—that was common ground to both the Reformers and their opponents, and was indeed at that time an unquestioned Christian commonplace, like the doctrine of the Trinity. Nor was there anything new in the Reformer’s insistence that Bible reading is a sweet nourishing activity for Christian people. What was new was the belief, borne upon the Reformer’s by their own experience of Bible study, that Scripture can and does interpret itself to the faithful from within...From the second century on, Christians had assumed that the traditions and teachers of the church, guided by the Holy Spirit, were faithful to the biblical message, and that it was safe to equate Church doctrine with Bible truth.” (J. I. Packer, “‘Sola Scriptura’ In History and Today”, God’s Inerrant Word, ed. James Montgomery, pp. 44-45.)

“The ‘ancillary view’ is Lane’s term for the sixteenth-century Protestant view, in which tradition functions as an aid, but not a norm, for the interpretation of Scripture…In spite of claims to the contrary, the Reformers did not return to the ‘coincidence view’…The Reformation posited a degree of discontinuity in church history…” (Richard Bauckham, “Tradition In Relation To Scripture and Reason”, in Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, ed. Drewery & Bauckham, p. 122.)

And one more quote from Dr. Williams:

“Several publications by evangelicals have argued that the doctrine of sola scriptura was practiced, though implicitly, in the hermeneutical thinking of the early church. Such an argument is using a very specific agenda for the reappropriation of the early church: reading the ancient Fathers through the leans of post-Reformational Protestantism…Scripture can never stand completely independent of the ancient consensus of the church’s teaching without serious hermeneutical difficulties…the real question, as the patristic age discovered, is, Which tradition will we use to interpret the Bible?” (D. H. Williams, Retrieving the Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism, pp. 229, 234.)

Not one of the above cited scholars is Catholic, and all (with the possible exception of Schaff) are within the Evangelical camp. So, I think it is quite safe to say that these men are not reading the early Church Fathers with some conciliar Catholic bias.

Now, I would like to urge my readers to listen to James’ webcast again (and if possible, read his above cited essay), and then read the early Church Fathers anew, and determine if James’ view is the correct one, or that of Lane and his supporters.

[BTW, in the many citations that James provided in his essay from the corpus of Athanasius, he conveniently left out this one:

“Moreover, aside from these scriptural utterances, let us also consider the tradition and teaching and faith of the Catholic Church from the beginning, that which the Lord has given, the apostles preached, and the fathers [596A] guarded. This is the foundation on which the Church is established, and the one who strays form it is not a Christian and should no longer be called so…”(Athanasius, Epistola I Ad Serapion – English trans. by Khaled Anatolis, Athanasius, Routledge: London, 2004, p. 227.)

James is certainly not the only person who has advanced the notion that the early Church taught the doctrine of sola scriptura; back in the mid-19th century, the Anglican scholar, Dr. Pusey, attempted to the same, to which John Henry Newman responded:

You have made a collection of passages from the Fathers, as witnesses in behalf of your doctrine that the whole Christian faith is contained in Scripture, as if, in your sense of the words, Catholics contradicted you here. And you refer to my Notes on St. Athanasius as contributing passages to your list; But, after all, neither you, nor I in my Notes, affirm any doctrine which Rome denies. Those Notes also make frequent reference to a traditional teaching, which (be the faith ever so contained in Scripture), still is necessary as a Regula Fidei, for showing us that it is contained there; vid. Pp. 283-431; and this tradition, I know, you uphold as fully as I do in the Notes in question. In consequence, you allow that there is a two-fold rule, Scripture and Tradition; and this is all that Catholics say. How, then do Anglicans differ from Rome here? I believe the difference is merely one of words…” (John Henry Newman, Certain Difficulties Felt By Anglicans In Catholic Teaching Considered, vol. 2, pp. 11, 12.)

Grace and peace,


Friday, May 23, 2008

The 05-22-08 Dividing Line webcast.

Yesterday afternoon I began working on the thread I had promised my readers concerning James White’s use of the early Church Fathers in his book The God Who Justifies. I had just finished the post at exactly 3:59 PDT and was going to place it on the blog but thought I should tune into The Dividing Line first; I am sure pleased that I did! The first ½ hour was devoted to my blog and the D.H. Williams essay I had quoted. After listening to the program, I came to believe that it would be best to comment some of the points that James made in the Thursday broadcast (HERE) before posting the material I had typed up yesterday.

Now, before I begin to address yesterday’s program, I want to make it perfectly clear that I in no sense feel that this is a dialogue/issue that I need to “win”; rather, my efforts stem from a simple desire to “get it right”. With that said, on to the program.

DL 2:44 ff – “…those who seek to engage in this kind of argumentation generally really fall flat, even when they happen to be rather well think [?] and just sit around and dig stuff up as certain people in the web can…”

I have no insight at all as to what James is trying to convey when he refers to my blog post as “this kind of argumentation”; perhaps, he, or someone else could clarify. As for the “just sit around and dig stuff up comment in the web” comment, let me make it perfectly clear: though I do try to get in at least 4 hours of reading in each day, I certainly do not “just sit around”; and further, I did not find the D.H. Williams article on the web, but rather, came across it during my reading of Dr. Williams book Retrieving The Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism – A Primer for Suspicious Protestants—a book I had read at least two years prior to my conversion to Catholicism in April, 2002.

DL 3:30ff – “…this D.H. Williams. And uhhh, now D.H. Williams uhh I don’t know uhhh he, he may be a Baptist. I got the article but the article doesn’t have a whole lot of information about him either, other than teaches at Loyola in Chicago, which of course is a Jesuit institution, which of course makes you wonder…”

Dr. Williams was in fact an assistant professor of patristics and historical theology at Loyola University of Chicago, back when he wrote the Interpretation article. He was also at that time (and still is) an ordained Baptist minister. However, Dr. Williams is now a professor at Baylor University in Waco, TX—which, as all know, is a Baptist institution. For Dr. Williams’ impressive credentials see HERE and HERE.

DL 5:00ff. – “..of course my response to Roman Catholicism has always been to demonstrate that it’s dogmatic definitions are not consistent with the early Church and not to try and make the early Church into Protestants; it’s just not the case…”

I will accept James here at his word; however, if such is really the case, then he certainly needs to be a bit more guarded with the type of language he uses in his writings. In his essay found in Sola Scriptura!, “Sola Scriptura and the Early Church”, we read:

For a time he even stood against the Roman See under Liberius, the bishop of Rome who gave in to the pressures placed on him. Truly it was said of him, Athanasius contra mundum, “Athanasius against the world.” What an amazingly Protestant attitude was displayed by this bishop of Alexandria. (Page 42 - bold emphasis mine.) [More on this passage later.]

DL 6:40ff. – “…well, if this man’s a Baptist he’s probably not a very good one, uhhh one way or the other. Then we have the footnote and uhhh, I, I tracked, I looked for the article in my library; actually I just went online and downloaded it, it is available…”

Well, since I have never met Dr. Williams, it is not an easy task to comment on James’ “if this man’s a Baptist he’s probably not a very good one.” However, I have read 4 of his books, and, of course, his essay in Interpretation, and from those readings he sure seems to remain faithful to his Baptist tradition. As for the essay, I ordered a copy of the journal years ago, but have not been able to track down a link to it online so that others may read the entire essay in its full context (my cyber skills are quite poor).

DL 7:20 ff. – “…White’s essay exhibits very limited familiarity with patristic doctrinal history such that, let’s see what the examples are here, such that it claims Athanasius stood against Liberius’, bishop of Rome (p. 42), which I'll read to you in a moment, it doesn’t say that at all, but hey, just because you never got one thing right, and this other fellow just repeats it 10 years later, and you know, let’s give him a chance, you know; whereas in fact, Athanasius sought the protection of Liberius’ successor, Julius, during his exile, and he, of all the Greek fathers, remained the most intimate with Rome after Julius’ death in 352, it may all well be true, but it has nothing to do with what I said…” [Blue lettering is James quoting Williams.]

DL 18:00 ff. “…but you will note the accusation quoted by our Roman Catholic critic today, the first one being that the uhhh the example being, uhhh it claims Athanasius stood against Liberius, bishop of Rome; and what I actually said was that Athanasius stood for the Nicene Faith even when Liberius collapsed and gave proper referencing for that particular information…”

Really? I mean in all sincerity, really? Is that what James’ “actually said”? Here are his own words once again:

For a time he even stood against the Roman See under Liberius, the bishop of Rome who gave in to the pressures placed on him.

Contrast the above with Williams’ assessment:

White's essay exhibits very limited familiarity with patristic doctrinal history such that it claims Athanasius stood against Liberius’, bishop of Rome…

If Liberius was the bishop of the Roman See when Athanasius supposedly stood against the Roman See, then how could anyone construe that Athansius did not stand against Liberius?

And further, James’ references to Schaff in footnote #29 do not come to his aid as he indicated for none of the references suggest that Athanasius “stood against the Roman See under Liberius, the bishop of Rome ”. In fact, in the second volume that James referenced, Schaff actually argues for the opposite:

Even the papal chair was desecrated by heresy during this Arian interregnum; after the deposition of Liberius, the deacon Felix II., “by antichristian wickedness,” as Athanasius expresses it, was elected his successor. (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, 3.635, 636 – Eerdmans 4th printing of the Fifth Edition, Revised.)

Any opposition that Athanasius may have expressed against the Roman See was when Liberius had been removed as its bishop by Constantius and replaced by the anti-pope Felix.

Earlier in the same volume Schaff penned:

The schism originated in the deposition and banishment of the bishop Liberius, for his orthodoxy, and the election of the Arian Felix as pope in opposition by the arbitrary will of the emperor Constantius (a.d. 355). (Ibid. page 371.)

My oh my, how could anyone, especially a patristic scholar, not be troubled by the content and language used by James to describe Athanasius’ position...

As for Athanasius’ own words concerning the Roman See, one will find NO ammunition in his writings to support James’ claim that “he even stood against the Roman See under Liberius, the bishop of Rome”.

Last night I pulled out my heavily underlined and noted NPNF volume on Athanasius and found the following:

Now it had been better if from the first Constantius had never become connected with this heresy at all; or being connected with it if he had not yielded so much to those impious men; or having yielded to them, if he had stood by them only thus far, so that judgment might come upon them all for these atrocities alone. But as it would seem, like madmen, having fixed themselves in the bonds of impiety, they are drawing down upon their own heads a more severe judgment. Thus from the first they spared not even Liberius, Bishop of Rome, but extended their fury even to those parts; they respected not his bishopric, because it was an Apostolical throne; they felt no reverence for Rome, because she is the Metropolis of Romania; they remembered not that formerly in their letters they had spoken of her Bishops as Apostolical men. But confounding all things together, they at once forgot everything, and cared only to shew their zeal in behalf of impiety. When they perceived that he was an orthodox man and hated the Arian heresy, and earnestly endeavored to persuade all persons to renounce and withdraw from it these impious men reasoned thus with themselves: ‘If we can persuade Liberius, we shall soon prevail over all.’ Accordingly they accused him falsely before the Emperor…(“History of the Arians” Part V.35 – NPNF 4.282.)

But Liberius after he had been in banishment two years gave way, and from fear of threatened death subscribed. Yet even this only shews their violent conduct, and the hatred of Liberius against the heresy, and his support of Athanasius, so long as he was suffered to exercise a free choice. For that which men are forced by torture to do contrary to their first judgment, ought not to be considered the willing deed of those who are in fear, but rather of their tormentors. They however attempted everything in support of their heresy, while the people in every Church, preserving the faith which they had learnt, waited for the return of their teachers, and condemned the Antichristian heresy, and all avoid it, as they would a serpent. (“History of the Arians” Part V.41 – NPNF 4.284.)

Who that witnessed these things, or that has merely heard of them, will not be greatly amazed, and cry aloud unto the Lord, saying, ‘Wilt Thou make a full end of Israel?’ Who that is acquainted with these proceedings, will not with good reason cry out and say, ‘A wonderful and horrible thing is done in the land;’ and, ‘The heavens are astonished at this, and the earth is even more horribly afraid.’ The fathers of the people and the teachers of the faith are taken away, and the impious are brought into the Churches? Who that saw when Liberius, Bishop of Rome, was banished, and when the great Hosius, the father” of the Bishops, suffered these things, or who that saw so many Bishops banished out of Spain and the other parts, could fail to perceive, however little sense he might possess, that the charges against Athanasius also and the rest were false, and altogether mere calumny? For this reason those others also endured all suffering, because they saw plainly that the conspiracies laid against these were founded in falsehood. For what charge was there against Liberius? or what accusation against the aged Hosius? who bore even a false witness against Paulinus, and Lucifer, and Dionysius, and Eusebius? or what sin could be lain to the account of the rest of the banished Bishops, and Presbyters, and Deacons? None whatever; God forbid. There were no charges against them on which a plot for their ruin might be formed; nor was it on the ground of any accusation that they were severally banished. It was an insurrection of impiety against godliness; it was zeal for the Arian heresy, and a prelude to the coming of Antichrist, for whom Constantius is thus preparing the way. (“History of the Arians” Part VI.46 – NPNF 4.287.)

I humbly submit that Athanasius DID NOT stand “against the Roman See under Liberius, the bishop of Rome who gave in to the pressures placed on him.” Athanasius loved Liberius, even during his brief lapse, he loved the Roman See, and James’ words are certainly not a faithful representation of these facts.

I must close for now, my comments on the rest of the webcast will have to wait until tomorrow—the Lord willing.

Grace and peace,


P.S. I do want to thank James for pointing out that his clips of Steve Ray were not from a Catholic Answers radio broadcast—I have made the needed corrections.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

James White on Steve Ray.

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008 turned out to be an interesting day, of sorts, for the Beachbum. I had just received the 4th, and final, volume of the English translation project of Herman Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics. As I sat down at my desk to begin my reading of the tome, I looked down at my watch and saw that it was 10:55 (PDT), and for some unknown reason The Dividing Line flashed to the fore of my thoughts from the deep reassesses of my mind. It had been well over a month since I had last listened to a live broadcast of James White’s webscast program, so I thought I would ‘multi-task’ and listen in while I read Bavinck. At the end of the webcast, I immediately wanted to jump into the fray, and type up my musings; but instead, I chose to get a workout in. (I want to thank James for that extra bit of energy which allowed me to set a personal record of reps (15) with 210 lbs., in the bench press [grin].) After my workout, I thought it best to refrain from making any comments until I could download Tuesday’s webcast, which would enable me to type up accurate quotes, rather than just paraphrases from my memory.

Now, before I proceed to provide some extracts from the Tuesday program (HERE), I would first like to bring to mind the introduction that is played before each webcast: “The apostle Peter commanded Christians to be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within us, yet to give that answer with gentleness and reverence.” Let’s see how well James lives up to that opening…

After a somewhat benign commentary concerning technical difficulties that he had been dealing with, James finally gets to his main topic for the Tuesday program: Steve Ray. Approximately 5 minutes into the program James states:

“…once again, you may recall a few weeks ago, we were, uhhh, uhhh, looking at some of the stuff Steve Ray was saying; and Steve Ray likes to go around and, uhhh (clears throat)—in case you are wondering who Steve Ray is, uhhh, we like to say he pretends to be Indiana Jones…

Right then, I got the impression that the program was going to be yet another diatribe directed at popular Catholic apologetics. After attempting to defend his opening remarks about Steve Ray, James then takes a quick shot at Tim Staples, and the follows that with these gems: “this is the, is one of the best they got, wow, amazing”; “this is top notch stuff, wow…absolutely amazing”. James then gets a bit worked-up over some of the plaudits that the host, Teresa Tomeo, of Catholic Connections recently bestowed upon Steve Ray during the radio program, providing some more, “insightful” commentary.

Before getting to the actual clips from Teresa Tomeo's Catholic Connections radio program that gave rise to main thrust of The Dividing Line webcast, James takes 2 unrelated phone calls, and then finally returns back to the Steve Ray topic at the beginning to the second ½ hour; it is in this second ½ hour that James’ diatribe picks up some real steam. He titillates his listeners with subjective assessments that include: “his [Steve Ray] form of Protestantism was not exactly, ummmmm, the deepest, and the result of a lot of meaningful study”; “I would have to identify, Steve Ray has not advanced beyond the Jack Chick level of apologetics, even as a Catholic; he [Steve Ray] uses the same mindset Jack Chick uses against Roman Catholics”.

James then gets to the primary reason why I decided (probably against better judgment) to type up this post: Steve Ray’s “abuse of the early Church Fathers.” James’ states that Steve “takes a theology developed a thousand years later” and reads it back into the writings of the early Church Fathers. James is absolutely correct on this! Fact is, many apologists (Catholic and Protestant) are guilty of James’ charge; BUT SO IS JAMES!!!

In my April 23, 2008 post (HERE), I provided a quote from the pen of the Baptist patristic scholar D.H. Williams that lends concrete evidence for James’ own “abuse of the early Church Fathers.”

Tomorrow, Lord willing, I shall provide further evidence of the “abuse of the early Church Fathers”, on the part of James, this time from his book The God Who Justifies.

In the meantime, I would like all to reflect upon the following words from our Lord:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye. (Matthew 7:1-5 – KJV.)

Amen Jesus, amen.

Grace and peace,


Monday, May 19, 2008

Luther and James Swan on authority.

This morning, I came across an interesting thread posted by James Swan on his Beggar’s All blog (HERE). I typed up a brief response, only to discover that he is not allowing any comments to be posted. Not wanting my efforts (meager as they may be) to never see the ‘light of day’, I have chosen to create a thread here at AF as a vehicle for my musings. The following is my response to James’ closed thread:

Hello James,

Attempting to understand Luther can, at times, be quite difficult, for Luther is not always consistent with himself. I find his treatment of Matt. 23:2-4 to be somewhat muddled; Luther wrote:

So much for the call into the office. But Christ is not speaking of that here; for something more is required, namely, that no rival or supplementary doctrine be introduced, nor another word be taught than Christ has taught. Christ says in Mt. 23:2-4: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat: all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe: but do not ye after their works; for they say and do not. Yea, they bind heavy burdens too grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger.” Although these of whom Christ here speaks were regularly appointed, yet they were thieves and murderers; for they taught variations from Christ's teaching. Christ reproves them in another place, in Matthew 15:3, where he holds up before them their traditions and tells them how, through their own inventions, they have transgressed the commandments of God, yea, totally abolished them. We have also many prophets who were regularly appointed and still were misled, like Balaam, of whom we read in Num. 22; also Nathan, described in 2 Sam 7:3. Similarly many bishops have erred. (Sermons of Martin Luther, Vol. III, p. 375 – Baker Book House reprint – no date.)

Our Lord sure seems to defend the ‘official’ teachings of the “scribes and the Pharisees” who “sit on Moses’ seat”, for he admonishes his listeners with: “all things therefore whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe”.

Luther sure seemed to ‘wink’ at Christ’s counsel concerning those in authority during his revolt…

Grace and peace,