Alpha and Omega Ministries, The Christian Apologetics Ministry of James R. White
















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For Those Behind the Times

 

Apologetics Blog Archives

 


March, 2004

3/31/04:  SOME (good grief!) Progressive Dispensationalists Reply
     On 3/26 I posted a response to an article on John 6.  The authors have replied, in a sense, here. I say in a sense because in essence the entire reply is a defense of using their unique dispensational construct to avoid the grammatical and syntactical problems with their interpretation.  Evidently, they believe their over-all system trumps the details of the text.  Since those specific exegetical errors are not even addressed in the reply, we once again have another documented instance of "John 6 vs. Tradition."

Blog Implosion
     There's no reason to even comment.  All possibility of rational dialogue with Mr. Enloe has obviously ended.  If you are a glutton for punishment, or for some reason need a sober warning about the dangers of losing balance, see his blog, scroll first to the article from 3/29/04 titled "Reformation Liberty" (the article is a long mockery of myself and my belief that one honors God and His Word by engaging in the work of exegesis); read the comments attached (Eric Svendsen chimed in, and I posted as well); then go back up to the entry for 3/31, "This Wasn't What I Had in Mind" and attached comments.  I don't need to say a word to anyone who knows me or my work, for I can't even recognize my own beliefs or actions in the distortions attributed to me any longer.  If you don't know me and my work, take some time to evaluate it, and you'll see why the best rebuttal of this kind of thing is to just let it speak for itself.  [Oh, surprise, surprise, Alexander decided to post kudos to TGE for his explosion, too--though, of course, what TGE says about *me* would apply just as much to *him,* but hey, calumny feels no need for consistency.  You know the old saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend."]

3/30/04:  Thanks, Brian, Whoever You Are
     I was just catching up on comments left by Mr. Enloe in response to my blog (comments that do not use names, but refer to me anyway, as if that somehow allows him to fulfill his commitment to not address me, while accusing me of every kind of sin under the sun anyway....wait, you aren't supposed to do that, are you?).  It was sorta depressing, since the real issues were being ignored yet again, and the importance of honoring the Word of God by handling it with respect and the dignity it demands (i.e., doing meaningful exegesis) was being drug through the mud.  But then I came across a clear-headed, well-written comment by someone identified as "BrianBerean."  I honestly have no idea who Brian is.  I know some Brians, but I don't think I know this one.  Anyway, I appreciated what he had to say, and was motivated by one of his comments to quickly throw this on the blog.  He said he wished I would acknowledge the validity of some of TGE's points, and I would like to know which points he is referring to.  Since I can't seem to get Mr. Enloe to engage me on the centrality and practice of exegesis to Christian theology, I would really be interested in knowing which points Brian feels I have ignored.  Is it true that church history is important?  Of course.  It is true that we are influenced in our thinking and application by our social context, which likewise was formed over time, and influenced by many movements of the past.  So I'm uncertain what points I have "missed," and would like to know.
     I will say this, however: one of the most constant false accusations Mr. Enloe seemingly cannot rid himself of is that I do not believe that what I do in life is "spiritual."  He has said I made a comment at some point about having to clean my pool (I have not been able to locate it in my logs), and that this somehow was illustrative of how I separate out secular life from the "spiritual" work of writing or teaching or researching.  I may well have at one point complained that I was not going to be able to finish a project on time, or was going to have to put other things off, since I was having a pool problem (warning to all moving to Phoenix: yes, they look nice, but they are a never ending job, and a black hole of money; unless you are a fish, DON'T DO IT!).  But noting in passing a desire to finish a project (to the glory of God) does not mean that I do not, or cannot, see all of my life as under the Lordship of Christ, nor that I cannot clean my pool to the glory of God. 
     I have told my kids this story a number of times.  In my sophomore year of high school I became very serious about studying the Bible and walking with the Lord.  I was on the tennis team, and since we were a very small, new high school, we were often up against much larger, much better high schools.  I was almost always #2 on the team, and I had never once beaten the #1 player named Chris.  Well, I began memorizing the Scriptures and really seeking to apply my faith in all of my life, and I came to the conclusion that I should play tennis to the glory of God as well.  That meant to my young mind "leaving it all on the court," giving every effort I could, tracking down every shot, concentrating on doing my best.  So in the next challenge match I had against Chris, I did just that.  I didn't give up on any shot.  I served with all my might.  The coach came down and started to watch.  Soon others gathered around.  I was hitting the ball with every bit of my strength, concentrating on form and strategy.  And I won.  In fact, it wasn't overly close.  I will never forget that day. Have I been consistent in doing that in every aspect of my life?  Has anyone?  But I do know it is vitally important, and personally, I am grieved that a man who I used to call a friend, a man that I have often said is very bright and intelligent, seems to feel he can constantly slander an elder in the church with the repeated false accusation that I think otherwise. 
     I have much more to say about this issue, and I want to find time to comment on the Pinnock/Sanders/Open Theists amongst the Mormons stuff that has developed lately, but I have an article to finish and two debates to prepare, and, I need to go lift weights....all to the glory of God.  Hopefully post more later.  :-)

3/28/04:  Dave Armstrong
     It is good to know that even on weekends the ever-vigilant Dave Armstrong is reading my blog. J Seriously, only a few hours after posting my response to TGE below, DA (as he is so affectionately known by so many) posted a long, rambling response that, to be honest, has almost nothing whatsoever to do with what I said. I normally try to avoid DA when I write, since he seems to have no end of time nor any interest in actually focusing upon any one topic in his writings. In fact, he has written so much that it seems to be approaching critical mass, and may soon crash the internet due to all of his self-congratulatory self-citation. Anyway, if you dare mention him you will get a minimum of ten times the amount of text in return (witness this situation), and there is simply no end to the verbiage that can be pounded out on a keyboard connected to one of today's high-speed computers.
     Be that as it may, what I said was 1) DA lacks the ability to engage the text of the Scriptures in a meaningful fashion, and 2) DA will use anything to attack the truth. Unwittingly he has proven the second proposition true in his lengthy response and the argumentation it contains. As to the first, I simply direct anyone to the "exegesis" presented in A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, his 2001 publication. The book is a monument to how to ignore context, avoid grammar, shred syntax, and insert the traditions of Rome willy-nilly into any passage you cite. Sadly, given how rare it is for anyone to honor the Word by engaging in serious AND believing exegesis these days, few in the pews have the process modeled for them consistently in the pulpit or the Bible Study room, and hence are impressed by even this kind of rambling eisegesis. DA thinks himself a modern Socrates, yet, his writing takes wild leaps from topic to topic, inserts endless (and often gratuitous) irrelevant material that serves only to cover the shallow nature of what is being said, and in the end requires one to possess the skill of nailing jello to a wall to be able to respond to it for its utter lack of substance. Take away his quotes from the CCC and Newman, and there would be little left.
     To demonstrate this with clarity, let me provide a contrast. DA has published a book in which he seeks to give a "biblical defense" of his theology (it is much more of a defense offered by selective citations of Newman than anything else). It struck me this evening that he "explained" issues regarding Hebrews 7 and Christ's priesthood in his book, and I am writing an article for a journal on the same topic. So, the best way to substantiate what I have said is to just allow the reader to decide. Below I reproduce DA's comments, and after that, my own as they will be published in an upcoming journal article.  Click here for the comparison.

3/27/04:  Bob Ross and Debating Calvinism
     I received at least three copies of Bob L. Ross's "review" of Debating Calvinism over the past 24 hours or so.  I recall Bob Ross going after The Potter's Freedom as well.  Despite how often I say "God ordains the ends as well as the means," or "God uses the proclamation of the gospel as the means by which he draws His elect to Himself," Ross insists on not seeing this, or accepting it, and writes that I promote the idea of "regeneration apart from means."  And sorry, but saying I hold to a form of Pelagianism of any kind is just silly (I guess taking Romans 8:7-8 seriously is somehow akin to holding to a form of Pelagianism).  Oh well, that's OK.  Bob's a nice guy.  Just a tad confused is all.  J

Blog Wars II?  The Sequel is Never as Good as the Original
     It has seemed of late that TGE is back into the "shoot at my former comrades-in-arms" mode (he goes through phases like that), despite his stated intention, having "won" the last round, to move on to higher ground.  Seems someone is still rather...agitated.  Regular listeners to the DL and readers of this blog know that I often have rather strong things to say about "evangelicalism" as a whole.  I mean, if you want to make sure to close the maximum number of doors in your face today, do what we do: reject post-modern appeals to subjectivity, remain focused upon foundational (though unpopular) biblical truths like the free and unlimited right of God to reign as unquestioned Sovereign King over His creation, the utter depravity and helplessness of man, the "doctrines of grace," sola scriptura, the need to continue to evangelize Rome for her gospel cannot save, etc.  The idea that I am somehow enamored with modern evangelicalism is, well, just plain silly.
     And yet, that seems to be exactly what TGE thinks, not only about me, but others as well, such as David King and Eric Svendsen.  TGE's swing off into Fundamentalistic Moscowism (hey, he can make up things as he goes along, why can't I?) has led him to say some pretty odd things.  For example, yesterday he said,

My two cents: what's the virtue in claiming to be "Reformed" if all it means is being paranoid about what some of my Catholic friends have termed "the Great Romish Bogeyman", and hand-in-hand with such fear-mongering nonsense engaging in a fundamental watering down of historic Reformed sacramentology so as to make it fit the insipid, man-made religious expectations of the "Evangelical" crowd?

Whenever I see something about "fear-mongering" I know I need to put my helmet on and find a foxhole.  A few sentences later,

These days, the more I encounter the rabid, pharisaical, history-ignorant, culture-despising fulminating of the "Evangelicals" and the paranoid superstition that their theology and apologetics cling to like Linus' blanket, the more I begin to feel that in our day the bigger threat to the Reformed faith is found in Evangelicalism and not in St. Peter's Square. Maybe "Evangelicalism" is the different religion that we have to face today.

Aside from the high-acid content (does the EPA know about this?), this kind of rhetoric continues the "Reformed Catholic" mantra that cannot lead to any other conclusion than "Doctrine is a secondary issue: let's do the Christian culture thing first," as if the church has any power to do anything outside of the gospel to begin with.  Anyway, I pondered responding to this, but chose not to.  I mean, after being so utterly decimated by TGE the last time, I'm pretty gun-shy!  I mean, I might get hit with an entire mountain of obscure medieval blather, and that would pretty much wipe out any defense I might offer from such a completely confusing and unknowable source as, well, the Bible.  So I chose to blog about Islam instead (see below).
     But this morning I found a comment, prompted, appropriately enough, by Dave Armstrong, that included names:

And I don't think it's a coincidence at all in this respect that a number of my former comrades-in-arms have indicated that they have significant trouble with my work on conciliarism-as-method-of-ecclesiastically-applying-sola Scriptura: they would rather sit around acting like a bunch of Fundamentalist Baptists quoting their prooftexts and their slogans and their philosophically-naive understanding of "clarity" and "self-evident" than be a little more realistic about these matters. And that attitude, is of course, informed by their aforesaid out-of-balance anti-Romanism. From White to King to Svendsen to all who simply follow in their train repeating the same old tired polemical slurs until the cows come home, what we see is, I think, ironically an anti-Calvinist spirit (understanding Calvinism in its best, non-Fundamentalist light) and instead a profound wish to be in tune with Modern "Evangelicalism" and it's numerous distortions of history, Christian society, and soteriology.

Hmmm.  Where to begin?  Fundamentalist Baptists---I get the feeling that is not meant in a positive light, perhaps?  J  I'm assuming that dealing with issues like, say, Romans 3-5 in reference to Rome's doctrine of justification, or Matthew 16:18 in reference to Papal pretensions, or John 6 in response to all who rob God of His glory in synergistically joining man's depraved will as the deciding factor in whether Christ will be a Savior or an oft-failing wannabe---that this is the "prooftexting" to which he refers.  Remember, TGE avoided actually exegeting the text of Galatians 2 like the plague, preferring to let others try their hands at it, so it seems odd (I have noticed that the biblical content of TGE's writings has dropped down to...oh, about the same level of much of the theological writing of the medieval period of late) that he would use such language.  I imagine the "slogans" above are those worn out warriors, sola scriptura, sola fide, solus Christus, soli Deo gloria, etc.?  Yeah, unless you are a medievalist you can't possibly have a meaningful context for them anyway, and besides, we who are not "truly Reformed" don't really believe them anyway, since we all know, despite the clarifications and careful explanation offered, that we believe in solo scriptura (or as TGE recently smugly put it, sola ecclesia solitaria).  And surely it is our silly belief that Scripture is perspicuous and hence, when handled aright by those who honor its intention and honor God by engaging in the work of exegesis via proper methods of hermeneutics, is able to communicate across the generations and across the boundaries of language and culture that is "philosophically naive."  (How anyone managed to survive until the brilliant light of medievalism dawned upon our planet I will never know). 
     But isn't it enlightening to know that though we have not changed over the past number of years, now TGE says we are imbalanced in our "anti-Romanism"?  Now, don't expect much in the way of substance in what follows in TGE's rant; I mean, there is much more to be gained in a post-modern context in simply stringing together the phrase "same old tired polemical slurs" than there is in actually being able to back that kind of thing up (notice the parallel to Cowan's published diatribe below).  That is the beauty of this kind of "I can say what I want" type of writing the Internet makes possible: you can get away with this, because, when challenged, you just decide that you've had "enough of the battle," and you are going to take the high road...for a few months anyway.  You can even identify folks by name who helped you and encouraged you and you can get away with it since you really aren't responsible for what you write anyway.  Ah, isn't it glorious? 
     But all of that just brings us to that final explosion of utter silliness, the idea that not only are we who seek to press the issues of the Reformation itself in regard to the gospel "anti-Calvinist" (well, of course, TGE is the essence of the 'best' of Calvinism---just ask him!), but we are so because of our voracious appetite "to be in tune with Modern 'Evangelicalism' and it's numerous distortions of history, Christian society, and soteriology."  Somebody needs to run up to Moscow, Idaho and check things out.  There may be a gas-leak or something.  Yeah, I'm really going after modern evangelicalism.  In fact, I'm thinking of making my next book, The Prayer of Jabez for Purpose Driven Seeker-Friendly Christians Who Will Not Be Left Behind.  Yeah, that should work.
     It is very hard to take this kind of stuff seriously, but sadly, far too many folks are.  Why even note this kind of silly medievalist rhetoric, especially when it is so far removed from reality itself?  Easy: not only does it impact the work of seeking to set forth the gospel to Roman Catholics (those influenced by such rhetoric will not believe it necessary to do so, since we are all brothers in the common quest of establishing the Second Christendom anyway, so lets just grab everyone by their baptisms and move forward toward a glorious future!), but Roman Catholic apologists like Dave Armstrong, who lack any meaningful ability to engage the text in a serious manner, have no compunctions about grabbing anything to use as a bludgeon against the truth.  So despite the sarcasm of this response (how else do you deal with such silliness?  It is either laugh or cry), hopefully the reason for the response is evident: when you look around and say, "Hey, the evangelicals don't seem to care about the substance of the gospel enough anymore to care about its perversion, and those folks over there who used to care have taken a detour off into medievalism, and those over there have fallen into the Slough of Not Really New Perspectivism (a Bunyanism!), and those over there have been infected by Open Theism, and....etc. and etc."  At least you will know the whys and wherefores, and pray that God will keep you faithful in the midst of a generation that seems very, very easily distracted by baubles, bangles, and medieval beads.

John Calvin on Rome:

For both the writings of holy fathers, the acts of councils, and all history, make it plain that this height of power, which the Roman pontiff has now possessed for about four hundred years, was attained gradually, or rather was either craftily crept into, or violently seized. But let us forgive them this, and let them take for granted that primacy was divinely bestowed on the Romish see, and has been sanctioned by the uniform consent of the ancient church; still there is room for this primacy only on the supposition that Rome has both a true church and a true bishop. For the honor of the seat cannot remain after the seat itself has ceased to exist. John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church (Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press, 1995), pp. 133-134.

Can she be the mother of all churches, who not only does not retain, I do not say the face, but even a single lineament, of the true church, and has snapped asunder all those bonds of holy communion by which believers should be linked together? John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church (Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press, 1995), p. 135.

The Roman pontiff is now opposing himself to the reviving doctrines of the gospel, just as if his head were at stake. Does he not, by this very fact, demonstrate that there will be no safety for his see unless he can put to flight the kingdom of Christ? Your imperial majesty is aware how wide a field of discussion here opens upon me. But to conclude this point in a few words: I deny that see to be apostolical, wherein nought is seen but a shocking apostasy; I deny him to be the vicar of Christ, who, in furiously persecuting the gospel, demonstrates by his conduct that he is Antichrist; I deny him to be a successor of Peter, who is doing his utmost to demolish every edifice that Peter built; and I deny him to be the head of the church, who by his tyranny lacerates and dismembers the church, after dissevering her from Christ, her true and only Head. John Calvin, The Necessity of Reforming the Church (Dallas: Protestant Heritage Press, 1995), p. 135.

3/26/04:  Sam Shamoun and answering-islam.org
     We are not a big "links" website (barely have time to keep up with stuff as it is), but we gladly and heartily recommend to you answering-islam.org, and especially the resources offered by Sam Shamoun.  Sam is a good friend of the ministry, and just an all around good guy, despite his looks.  J Sam was on our last cruise and impressed everyone with his grasp of Islam.  If you have heard me speak extemporaneously on "my" topics, those that I live and breathe (Bible translation, Mormonism, sola scriptura, the deity of Christ, justification, church history topics, etc.), then you have an idea what it is like to listen to Sam try to cram all his years of reading and debating into a brief period of time.  Anyway, Sam was also at the debate with Greg Stafford.  In the weeks since then I have often thought about commenting on aspects of the debate here on the blog (and have a few times), but for some reason, those thoughts hit me when I am away more often than when I am in the office.  Anyway, Sam wrote and sent some documentation from the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society regarding their odd view that Jehovah does not have exhaustive knowledge of future events.  I had noted this when witnessing to JW's in years past.  Here is the info.  Anyway, the reason he sent the information was because of Stafford's statements about the Lord Jesus.  He had argued that Jesus could not be truly God because of the self-limitations involved in incarnation (I had pointed out in the debate how Stafford begins with the impossibility of a real Incarnation, a fact Sam would likewise see quickly, since his Muslim opponents have the same foundational problem), and pointed to Jesus' saying He did not know the day or the hour that was set at the Father's command, i.e., how could Jesus know all things and not know all things?  Yet, this is exactly what the WTBTS teaches about Jehovah's knowledge of future things.  This is indeed an inconsistency in Stafford's position.  However, given the fact that Stafford seems to be moving away from standard WTBTS explanations in many areas, this may well be another area of deviation as well, who knows?  In any case, thanks to Sam for the info.

The "Pristine Faith Restoration Society" and John 6
  
  Yeah, I had never heard of it either.  But a listener to the DL wrote and referred me to a discussion of John 6 on the site, and said they found it compelling.  So, I have taken the time to reply to it here.  If you visit the site, you might find it odd that the very nice graphic with the Greek letters is based, ironically, on the English words, rather than their Greek counterparts.  I found that sorta humorous. 

3/25/04:  Counter-Cult Expert Unable to Document Charges
     I noted in the blog entry for 2/27/04 that I had contacted Dr. Douglas Cowan in an effort to obtain from him documentation for the charges he made against me in print in his book, Bearing False Witness? An Introduction to the Christian Counter-cult.  After waiting nearly a month, I wrote to Dr. Cowan a second time.  Here is the ensuing dialogue in e-mail, all written on 3/24/04.  The letters speak for themselves. 

3/24/04:  Open Phones on the DL Tomorrow
     It has been quite some time since we took phone calls, so we will throw the lines open tomorrow, Thursday, at 4PM MST, for your calls (877-753-3341).  We had one caller Tuesday I didn't get to (call back!), and since we have talked about Adrian Rogers, Dave Hunt, and a number of other topics since having open phones, I'm sure there are lots of questions you may have.  But remember, many other subjects are "fair game," including questions about the Stafford debate (if I only had time!), the scheduling of the Wilson debate on the Federal Vision concept of the new covenant, upcoming debates in Salt Lake City, etc.  So fire up the phone lines and give us a call.

3/23/04:  ACK!  I Forgot!  My Apologies
     OK, since too many of you have figured out the Dividing Line schedule, we are changing it again.  Starting THIS MORNING we will go back to the Tuesday 11AM/Thursday 4PM schedule (MST).
     Seriously, why change the schedule?  We get a lot of complaints about that.  Well, it's simple: it's a two man operation, and both of us are family men, and one of us has had a "moving schedule conflict" that, well, moved again.  :-)  Just that simple. 

Today on the DL:  Lewis B. Smedes, formerly of Fuller Seminary, gave an interview to SoulForce, Mel White's pro-homosexual organization, which is now being distributed with the following description:

The Rev. Dr. Lewis B. Smedes, the esteemed Christian theologian and ethicist, demolishes the arguments that Romans 1 condemns homosexuals.  He concludes that using the Bible against GLBT people is a "heresy."

The argumentation is utterly vacuous, and a tremendous example of what happens when the authority of the Word as a whole revelation from God is abandoned by liberal theologians.  Listen in!

3/22/04: UMC Proves Inerrancy Matters
     The "acquittal" of a "lesbian pastor" by officials of the United Methodist Church (story) has once again demonstrated what happens when the full authority and inerrancy of the Scriptures is abandoned by a once strongly evangelistic denomination.  If you are one of those who cannot begin to understand how anyone can call themselves a minister of the gospel, claim fidelity to the Christian faith and speak highly of the Bible, and yet vote to acquit an openly homosexual female minister, allowing her to return to the "pastorate" while remaining in an active relationship with her "partner,"  then you have not been watching what happens when liberalism eats the heart out of denominations like the UMC, the Episcopalians, liberal Lutherans, Presbyterians, and Baptists as well.  Once the final authority of Scripture falls (and it has in the UMC, which allows process theology and every sort of aberrant theology to be taught in its seminaries), "anything goes."
     The "couple" cares for a 5-year old boy (please note I am purposefully not using terms such as "wife," "parents," or "child," since these terms are defined by the Christian covenant of marriage, and two homosexuals living openly in sin together will never, ever constitute that sacred ordinance). 
     This kind of mockery of Christian truth will continue and escalate, resulting, inevitably, in a very strong distinction between those "organizations" that openly villify the authority of the Word, and those willing to count the cost by remaining faithful to the truth.

Ah, Alexander Junior Pipes Up
     I know that some have been confused about the note below to Alexander the coppersmith.  Perhaps recalling the context of 2 Timothy 4:14-15 would help, along with the realization that just as there were those who opposed the apostle's teaching long ago, there will be those who engage in that activity today, all the while claiming to be fellow believers, while they know, in their hearts, that they are filled with hatred and detestation of sound theology.  There are a number who could fit into the role of Alexander in my life, and surely being involved in seeking to publicly defend the faith only increases my exposure to Alexander-like individuals.  But I have one particular person in mind.  He knows who he is.  And he has a junior partner who, seemingly feeling left out, has piped up even today on a fairly widely read e-mail list.  Though I have not said a word about him in ages (they get upset if they do not feel like they are bothering those they dislike so deeply) he felt it necessary to personally attack me in public yet again today, seemingly feeling that putting together conferences and doing all of the work necessary to address important issues (such as the nature of the covenant and the very essence of what the gospel message is and who we need to proclaim it to!) is somehow irrelevant or unimportant.  Of course, I don't believe anyone would wish to attend such conferences or activities featuring Alexander Jr., so that may figure into why he has decided to throw his diminutive weight into the spotlight, but the fact remains that I, for one, do not think he has any basis upon which to slander the tremendously hard work put out by such folks as Mike and Sau O'Fallon, or Rich Pierce, or all of the others who labor to benefit the people of God.  I sure am glad it is before the Lord that we stand or fall.  I'd hate to stand before the two-man jury of Alexander and his side-kick, Al Jr.

3/20/04:  A Message for Alexander, the coppersmith:
    
It has been a while since I heard from you, Alexander.  I knew you were still lurking, waiting for your next opportunity to continue your crusade.  Your opposition to those who seek to promote the gospel, especially in apologetic contexts, is well known, though, of course, you are constantly working to keep up that “image” behind which you hide your true motivations.  I knew it was only a matter of time when I saw you weigh in (without even bothering to engage in fair reading) regarding yet another apologetic issue, and that on the side of certain Roman Catholics.  I was hardly surprised to see you refer to a radical, tremendously shallow-researching Roman Catholic apologist as your “new friend.”  And just today I discovered that you had been actively attacking me in other venues of late, and I was not even aware of it.  Only the Lord knows what other mischief you have been up to.  But then again, that’s really what matters, isn’t it Alexander?  The Lord knows.  He knows my motivations, and He knows yours as well.  He knows what fills your heart, and over-flows into your written words.  And as Paul said long ago about your ancestor, “The Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”  I suppose your hate-mails are useful, however.  I have kept them all so that when the opportunity arises I can assist others in guarding themselves against you as you seek to vigorously oppose our teaching.  

3/19/04:  Arminian Grace
     The following was posted to our channel and on a web board, so hopefully Dennis will not mind my posting it here, too.  It seems relevant to the recent discussion of Dave Hunt's preaching.

Arminian grace! How strange the sound
Salvation hinged on ME
I once was lost then turned around
Was blind then chose to see

What "grace" is it that calls for choice
Out of some good within?
The part that willed to heed God's voice
Proved stronger than my sin

Through many ardent gospel pleas
I sat with heart of stone
But then some hidden good in me
Propelled me toward my home

When we've been there ten thousand years
Because of what we've done
We've no less days to sing our praise
Than when we first begun


- Dennis Walter Cochran

Angel's Eye on Apologetics:

Angel must have listened to the Madrid debate on the veneration of saints and images, because I well remember making with my words the point he here makes with his art.  And, as usual, it is more memorable when Angel does it:

Thoughts on Debating
     We live in a post-modern age where a zealous passion for truth is considered, at best, odd, especially in "academic" circles.  So much of modern scholarship is based upon the idea that there really is no certainty available to us in any field, and surely not in theology, hence, why bother debating?  Let's just discuss things, see if we can "build consensus," and encourage peace and harmony.  Of course, that consensus may change radically in the near future, but "its the best we have."
     Why would I bother to challenge William Hamblin to a public debate in Salt Lake City?  Basically because I believe God is glorified when His truth is proclaimed.  Notice I did not say when His truth is embraced, but when it is proclaimed.  God is glorified even in the rejection by sinful men of His truth.  If you don't believe that, ask yourself why God sent Isaiah to proclaim his message even when He said He would harden the hearts and minds of those to whom Isaiah made his proclamation.  Sometimes proclamation is part of judgment.  But in any case, it is always glorifying to God.
     Mormonism is a false religious system.  It presents a false god, a false Christ, a false gospel, a false church, false scriptures, and a false priesthood.  William Hamblin is one of the promoters of this religion.  He promotes it in his writings, speeches, and his teachings.  He was one of three LDS apologists I engaged in a radio discussion years ago on KTKK radio (the others were Daniel C. Peterson and Martin Tanner).  As a professor at Brigham Young University, he has a platform for the promulgation of his beliefs.  He seeks to defend Mormonism, which, logically, means he must likewise believe that God did in fact tell Joseph Smith that all Christian churches were corrupt and their creeds an abomination.  He has tried to defend blatant errors in the Book of Mormon as well (see my CRI article).  He has felt it appropriate to engage in apologetic activities, including responding to claims we have made, in the past. 
     In his replies to our little tract on temples he made numerous claims, some of which involved the concept of the LDS priesthood.  The priesthood issue is central to LDS claims of authority, and, it is likewise an issue upon which a tremendous amount of biblical data exists.  The Mormon concept is far removed from Scripture, and any public encounter would demonstrate this.  Who would be benefited thereby?  Only those who have been changed by the Holy Spirit of God so that they seek, in the Word, their final authority.  But those are the very ones I seek to edify through the printed word, the spoken word, and through the vehicle of debate. 
     The subject lends itself very naturally to a God-honoring, Christ-glorifying presentation of the supremacy of Christ as our one high priest; the finished nature of His work; and the abiding existence of Christ's church (over against Mormon claims of total apostasy).  Hence the value of such a challenge.

3/18/04:  Dr. Hamblin Declines Challenge
     It didn't take long.  Dr. Hamblin will not accept our challenge.  His reasons were, quite simply, without merit.  They were:  1) we set the time and place [of course: we are paying for the facilities, and we have to fly a minimum of two, possibly three, people to Utah to do the work it takes to video and audio tape the debate], 2) we pick the moderator [of course, Jason Wallace is the pastor of the church that puts out the funds to advertise the debate, and pays for the rental of the facility; moderators do little outside of announcing the topics and keeping the time...and trying to look impartial!]  3) we pick the topic [the topic of the priesthood is part and parcel of Dr. Hamblin's own response to my temples tract, linked below; since he declined to debate the temple issue this time (and we are debating the topic in a few weeks against someone else), the only other element of the response that we have not debated before is the excellent and important topic of the priesthood] 4) we pick the format [we did not discuss the format: if he didn't like the format we have used before, we would be open to a discussion of how he might wish to change the time allotments, order of speaking, etc.] 5) we sell the proceedings to further our anti-Mormon campaign [evidently Dr. Hamblin didn't read our challenge very closely: we offered to make the audio available for FREE, and to make the recorded media, CD or DVD, available AT COST; we truly wonder why FARMS sells their books for MONEY?] 6) we presented a "grossly distorted version" of our correspondence on the blog rather than citing the actual materials [The URL Dr. Hamblin then said we should have cited is THE EXACT ONE LINKED BELOW: evidently he didn't notice it, but has no problems making false accusations anyway] and 7) we wouldn't answer whether we would do the Internet debate [which, as anyone can see, we did, at the bottom of the debate challenge].  So, Dr. Hamblin has declined the challenge without providing a single substantive reason as to why.  We believe we know why: he knows he cannot defend his statements in public debate.  In a written forum he can obtain help from others; one on one he has to know the material himself.  I do not believe Dr. Hamblin can handle the text of the New Testament with sufficient capacity to survive a scholarly debate.  His non-responsive response seems to prove just that point.

N.B.: After I posted this, Dr. Hamblin pointed out that he thought I should have linked to a slightly different link; if you go to the one we gave, click on our name, the one he says would have avoided a "gross distortion" is immediately displayed.  We are really lousy at this "gross distortion" stuff.  :-)  Fact remains, the challenge has been offered, and declined.  Whether I wish to take on Dr. Hamblin and his associates in an Internet debate is an issue I'll consider after our trip to Salt Lake, and after I get a better idea of my publication duties for the rest of the year.

An Open Challenge to Dr. William Hamblin of Brigham Young University
     Over the past 36 hours a number of e-mails have shot back and forth between  myself and Dr. William Hamblin of BYU.  As has been the case in the past, the initial contact was unsolicited on my part.  I noted its nature below.  But it came at an interesting time, for we will be debating once again in Salt Lake City in just a few weeks, and Dr. Hamblin had been one we had invited to debate the issue of "temples," for he had offered comments in response to our brief tract on the subject a while back.  (I read these comments, and replied to them, on today's Dividing Line).  He declined that, and previous invitations, to engage in open, scholarly, moderated, recorded public debate.  We note that other BYU notables, even some, like Daniel C. Peterson, who have publicly said they would debate me "anywhere, anytime," have, upon being given the opportunity of following through on their words, declined.
     We would like to publicly challenge Dr. Hamblin to debate, "The Priesthood of the LDS Church: Consistent, or Contradictory to, the Bible?" on October 1, 2004, as part of the series of debates we have been presenting in Utah.  Now, Dr. Hamblin believes Alpha and Omega Ministries to exist solely to promote bigotry, and that we are interested in nothing but fund raising and rallying our "fanatic fans" (all of these sentiments say much to all those familiar with our ministry, our facilities, and our history).  Therefore, he refuses to engage in a public debate before video cameras because he does not want us to "sell" them and, seemingly make lots of money.  So, to remove this objection, we are offering to make the audio recording of the debate available for free in real audio format through straitgate.com.  Further, the video recording on DVD, and the audio recording on CD, would be made available AT COST, and nothing more.  Dr. Hamblin would, of course, be provided, at our cost, with an unedited master video tape of the debate which he could use as he wishes, including selling it at whatever price he would like.  We will also reimburse Dr. Hamblin for gas and food (it is not like Provo is a LONG way from Salt Lake City).
     Now, I have also contacted a major national publisher to inquire as to their interest in a "Debating Calvinism" style book.  Obviously, such a work would provide a tremendous opportunity for Dr. Hamblin to expose all of my "anti-Mormon" errors and, if this was to work out in conjunction with the public debate, would make a very useful "package" deal, providing both written and oral components.
     Dr. Hamblin only seems to wish to do some kind of minor Internet dialogue on temples.  If he chooses to reject our offer for a full, open, public, moderated debate (and possible published work as well), we will be forced to make note of this, of course.  If that transpires, then an Internet discussion can be arranged, for, as I demonstrated on the Dividing Line today, there is surely nothing of substance in his attempted rebuttal of the assertion that the New Testament does not instruct Christians to build temples, knows nothing of the LDS priesthood concepts, etc.  A written Internet-style dialogue would be only marginally useful, and surely we would all be left to wonder what would really happen in a real debate where real cross-examination would be expected and undergone.
     We will let you know what Dr. Hamblin says.

3/17/04:  Spurgeon Speaks to Dave Hunt From Heaven

Because sometimes a learned minister ventures, in all honesty and discretion, to give a more correct translation of the original, can this justify a foolish unlettered man in altering the original itself, and perverting the sense of a passage? There is an end to Scripture altogether, if license be given to alter its teachings according to our will. To teach perfect wisdom how to speak is too great a task to be ventured upon by any but the presumptuous and foolish. When our version is incorrect, then it is a duty to present the proper rendering, if one be able to find it out; but to give translations out of our whimsied heads, without having been taught in the original tongue, is impertinence indeed. (CH Spurgeon, Sermon 509, Vol. 9: Spurgeon's Sermons: Volume 9)

Thanks to Michael Nevarr for sending that quote.

BYU Explodes With Humor
    It is great to know that such scholars as William Hamblin of BYU read my little blog.  Today he sent me a note, quoting the item immediately below this one ("A True Advil Experience"), but taking Dave Hunt's name out, putting mine in, and changing the topic to Mormonism.  He then asked if I have a sense of humor.  Well, I think this blog has proven that, but as I pointed out in response, humor is most humorous when it is based on an element of truth, is it not?  In light of that, the comparison lacks a truthful foundation, since if my statements about Mormonism are as easily refuted as Dave Hunt's are on Calvinism, why is it that Dr. Hamblin and his fellow scholars in the leadership of FARMS consistently refuse to do so in public debate, though often invited?  In fact, the truly humorous irony here is that the parallel exists not between Dave Hunt and myself, but between Dave Hunt and Bill Hamblin: both have been often challenged to debate the issues against me, and both have declined to do so.  (B^D

3/16/04:  A True Advil Experience
     Listening to a couple of hours of Dave Hunt railing on Calvinism gave me a royal headache last evening.  But, you will benefit when you listen to the DL this afternoon.  I am simply grieved to hear Dave repeat falsehoods upon which he has been corrected over and over and over again, without even trying to get it right.  It is simply sad, very sad.
     Speaking of Dave Hunt, Mark Ennis has been kind enough to compile a Scripture index for the book.  It is found here.  The book should have had one, and I'm very disappointed it didn't, but many thanks to Mark for putting in this kind of work.  Download it, shrink down the font, print it out, and stick it in the back of the book!

3/15/04:  Tomorrow on the DL:  Dave Hunt Says James White Does Not Want Debating Calvinism in Print
     For those of you who have been writing and saying, "Look, come on, can you find a meaningful Arminian to debate, that Hunt encounter, though useful in responding to the common, but uninformed and shallow objections to Calvinism, was hardly a fair fight" may find this utterly amazing, but it is true: Dave Hunt thinks he proved his points in the book.  And when you consider that he thinks I was saying that Jesus was only attempting to get a Vacation Bible School going in Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37, I guess you can understand that.  Be that as it may, Dave Hunt spoke at a Brethren assembly in Springfield, Illinois on the 22nd of February.  We finally got the tapes.  Fascinating clips from the talk will be featured tomorrow on the DL, including Dave's assertion that he has said all he needs to say in the book, and that is why he will not debate me in public. Don't miss it!

3/14/04:  A Point of Personal Privilege
     I confess, I am somewhat hesitant, given the vociferous nature of the opposition we face regularly, to say almost anything personal on the blog outside of theological issues, but I'll trust the Lord on this one.  :-)  Yesterday I was the best man in the wedding of one of my closest friends in the world, Warren Smith.  Warren is a great brother in the Lord.  He came to us only a few years ago, but he has come to have an important part in my life, in that of Alpha and Omega Ministries, and at the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church.  Don't anyone tell him I said this, but he looks ten years younger than he actually is, and has that "all together" look that most guys would love to have.  In other words, he makes me ill.  :-)  Actually, I'm proud of him, and love him like a brother. You don't get to have good friends like him very often in your life.   Anyway, his commitment to the truth and the ministry of PRBC has been honored by the Lord: we are a small church, and the prospects of finding a marriage partner there are almost nil.  But, Warren put the truth first in his life, and along came Olivia (now Mrs. Smith!).  It just isn't fair that two people can look so perfect together, but there they are!  Here's the wedding party.  Yeah, the glow from the best man is yours truly.  And that fine looking young man on the left is my son, Joshua.  See, Reformed Baptists clean up pretty well.  :-)  Congratulations Warren and Olivia!  God bless you both as you begin your life together!

3/12/04:  Non-Adults?  Are You Serious?
     A lot of folks think that Dave Hunt and I wrote our debate book one chapter at a time.  We didn't.  Each of us wrote our 3000 word opening statements (seven of them), then exchanged them, wrote 2000 word replies, exchange them, wrote 1000 word replies, then two more 500 word exchanges for each chapter.  Why mention this?  Well, it does explain why certain topics are discussed more than once, and it also gives you an idea of what the actual chronological sequence of writing was.  But, it also explains something else: I did not see his final statements in his chapters, nor the closing, until the entire book was put together.  And even then, all I looked at was my own material at that point.  I didn't bother to read his.  So I was truly tickled when someone pointed out Dave Hunt's response to my comments on Matthew 23:37.  I had simply pointed out that Hunt had ignored, in both WLIT? and our debate, the exegesis of the passage I had offered in TPF, and added, "a passage condemning the Jewish leaders for seeking to keep those under their authority from the ministry of Christ."  Anyone who has read TPF knows what I am referring to: the Jewish people in Jerusalem contrasted with their leaders.  And how does Hunt respond?  Look at page 390: "That Christ meant Jerusalem's nonadults is absurd."  Nonadults?  The KIDS?  Someone can actually read the exegesis I offered in TPF and think I'm referring to LITTLE KIDS?  I am simply dumbfounded.  Well, I guess when you do not understand the position you are denying, it explains why you misrepresent it!
     By the way...we have a good stock in now of the book, and have dropped the price of this 400+ page book to only $10.00, plenty low to allow you to purchase multiple copies to give to others (especially those who use Dave Huntian style anti-sovereignty argumentation).

3/11/04:  Today on the DL:  Continuing Response to Adrian Rogers'  Recent Anti-Calvinism Sermon
     Of course, Dr. Rogers never mentions us nasty "Calvinists" by name.  We are just "some people."  But his recent anti-Calvinism sermon is a classic example of how to teach tradition without the slightest investment of a moment's consideration as to the meaningful exegesis of any text you throw out.  Nearly 25 examples of "how to completely shred a straw-man while providing classical examples of eisegesis" provided between the last DL and today's.  Be sure to listen!

3/10/04:  Major Announcement!
     Those of you who listened live to the Dividing Line last evening, you are "in on the big news."  For everyone else, here it comes.
     If you will click on the cruise page over to the right you will see not only a new page that gives you a lot more reason to join us for our apologetics cruise, but you will discover that our Conference will be featuring such speakers as Phil Johnson, Steve Camp, and David King (aside from myself).  But, you will also discover that on Friday night, November 5th, we will be hosting a major debate between myself and Douglas Wilson.  The topic?  Does Trinitarian Baptism Make One a Member of the New Covenant?  For those who have been keeping up with the "Auburn Avenue" controversy, (the proponents of this view are now said to be promoting the "Federal Vision") you know that we are, in essence, debating that issue.  A large number of folks are looking forward to this encounter, and though we have obtained spacious accommodations, do not procrastinate!  In fact, just give in and go for the whole Conference/Cruise deal!  Make it an early Christmas present for your family!  For details, see the cruise link at the top right of our home page.  Many thanks to Mike and Sau O'Fallon and Rich Pierce for all their work in setting this up.

Video Evidence: We Got Out Just In Time
     Want video evidence that A&O escaped the fiasco that has become the General Conference of the LDS Church at the last possible moment?  The Mormons have provided it. Truly makes you wonder if these people are undercover LDS.  No one is more effective in blaspheming Christ and mocking the gospel than these "preachers" (2 Timothy 4:14-15).

Coming in Early October:

3/08/04:  Done!
Isn't that cover pretty?  And now the writing is completed!   Here's an excerpt:

     When it comes to the exegesis of Scripture, we are truly treading upon holy ground.  While many view the interpretation of God’s Word as nothing more special or important than the reading of any other ancient book, in reality the more proper attitude would be that which gave rise to the Jewish practice of washing the hands when handling the scrolls of the Old Testament, for they believed the Scriptures “made the hands unclean,” they were so holy in and of themselves.  While we do not need to become superstitious about the physical book called the Bible, so as to wash our hands before picking up or opening the book, the text of the Scripture is, as we have seen, God-breathed.  Hence, when we seek to engage that text on the level of understanding, we are, in fact, handling divine truth.  We are putting ourselves in a position to hear from God.  That sets the activity apart from merely seeking to read an ancient historian so as to understand his story.
     It also sets believing exegesis apart from the common “Bible study” found in so many evangelical churches today.  Remember when you were in school and you had to take a test on a book you were assigned to read?  You studied and invested time in learning the background of the author, the context in which he lived and wrote, his purposes in writing, his audience, and the specifics of the text.  You did not simply come to class, pop open the book, read a few sentences, and say, “Well, I feel the author here means this….”  Yet, for some odd reason, this attitude is prevalent in Christian circles.  For some reason, the Bible is treated differently.  Rather than investing time in such allegedly “non-spiritual” pursuits such as the study of backgrounds and contexts and languages and the like, many think it best just to seek a “feeling” about a passage.  Whether that feeling results in an interpretation that has anything at all to do with what the original author intended to convey is really not considered an important aspect.  Everyone, seemingly, has the right to express their “feelings” about what they “think” the Bible is saying, as if those thoughts actually reflect what God inspired in His Word.  While we would never let anyone get away with treating our writings like this, we seem to think God is not bothered, and what is worse, that our conclusions are somehow authoritative in their representation of His Word. 

3/07/04:  A Wonderful Sermon
 
    Didn't get enough of the Word on the Lord's Day today?  Well, Dr. James Renihan, one of the leading Reformed Baptist scholars in the US, head of the Institute for Reformed Baptist Studies at Westminster Seminary in Escondido, spoke in our services today.  His morning message was on Revelation chapters 4 and 5.  His seven observations, and then three points, truly opened up the text in a marvelous way.  This link should work by sometime Monday.  :-)

Let's Sing it All Together Now..."I am Loved, I Am Loved, I Can Riiiiiiiisk Loving Yoooooooooouuuu"
     Want to see the quintessential Dave Hunt Fan?  Ran into these lovely lines today.  Comments follow briefly....

Because James White could not biblically defend his positions on a limited atonement and that God predestinates sinners to hell, he and others of like minded Calvinist, cult leaders have sought out various publishers in a great effort to keep Dave Hunt from having any books published in the future. Dave Hunt easily proves that Christ died for ALL men, especially them that believe and God is not willing that any should perish. James White's actions in this matter are deplorable for someone even claiming to be a Christian.

I have firsthand knowledge of Mr White and his fellow Calvinists sending letters to various publishers stating they will withdraw from having any future works published by various publishers if they continue to print Dave Hunt books. Because of the popularity of White and John MacArthur Calvinistic literature, the publishers have agreed, so as to not suffer any financial loss. The Publishers only care about money, while White and his Calvinist cult buddies only care about smearing a devout Christian.

Upon being challenged, this writer said:

Yes, sadly they are true. I have communicated with the staff of the berean call on this matter. You may call and verify this to be true yourself. James White is a lowlife.

For those interested, I have never called a publisher and asked them to refrain from publishing Dave Hunt's materials, and it is a joke of monumental proportions to say that any of them would care the slightest if I ever said I wasn't going to publish with them anyway.  This is just a silly rumor started by someone upon the basis of Multnomah coming to the quite appropriate conclusion that What Love is This? is a fundamentally flawed, egregiously BAD book.  The idea that there is some grand Calvinist conspiracy out there is just looney.  Ah, but we are not done with the fair, kind defender of Mr. Hunt.  A few posts later he wrote:

You may defend the cultist leader James White all you wish, but it IS true that he and others contacted the publishers of the edition of WLIT and threatened to not add their names to any further publications, if Dave Hunt's books continued to be published by the publisher. The publisher did succumb to White and his cronies threats and so you are now unable to buy one copy that this publisher once published. This can all be verified by ANYONE by contacting the Breena call representatives. Of course you wouldn't bother to do that because you look up in awe to your spiritual leader Mr White.

Request: with respect and kindness, will a few of our readers give the Berean Call a ring and ask this very question?  I would like to have confirmation from someone other than this particular fellow, who does not strike me as overly, uh, shall we say, stable, that this kind of false information is being pushed by Hunt's ministry.  OK, just one more memorable line from this fellow.  Upon disagreeing with what he thinks I believe about John 3:16, he writes,  "James White is a deplorable liar and a blasphemer of the work of Christ. It is James White's books that should be refused publication and NOT Dave Hunt's." Can we all sing it now together...hold hands now..."I am loved, I am loved...."  Yes, just like the Gaithers, sing along now....

3/06/04:  Calvin Said What?
     Since I posted something regarding Norman Geisler's book, Chosen But Free, below, one of our channel folks forwarded a note wherein he documents a fascinating combination of sources resulting in a fraudulent "quote" from Calvin in CBF.  Check it out.

Does Romans 9:16 Contain the Term "ek"?  EXPANDED
     We have gotten a number of inquiries based upon this blog entry, so I'm expanding it and adding two graphics.
     When Norman Geisler's anti-Calvinism book, Chosen But Free was first released, I encountered a number of basic errors in the text, not just on the level of theology and argumentation, but errors of fact as well.  I even found typographical errors and reported them to Bethany House Publishers, and these became the basis of Dr. Geisler's later accusing me of mis-citing him (see one example here).  But on page 222 of The Potter's Freedom (TPF) I noted, in passing, another error on Geisler's part.  Though I did not make a big deal about it, he erred when he stated in CBF (p. 59) that in Romans 9:16 the Greek term "ek" appears.  Specifically, he wrote, "Again, the Greek word for 'of' here is ek, which means 'out of.'"  Now, since some folks are actually questioning whether I have been accurate in representing this (and many do not have the original edition), here is a scan of the relevant paragraph:



     Now, after the release of TPF, a second printing of the first edition was released by BHP.  In it, this phrase was changed, without notification, to read, "Again, the Greek idea 'of' here can mean 'out of' (cf. John 1:13)."  And, since there is a question regarding it, here is the relevant paragraph as it appeared in the second printing of the first edition:

Now, my point all along is that Dr. Geisler is simply wrong in his attempt to get around this tremendous passage, and it seems that even when shown to be wrong on the Greek text itself, he simply removes the wrong word but keeps the wrong idea in the text.  Nothing is really "fixed" outside of the technicality of having misread the Greek text, and it seems obvious that it is not the text that is driving his understanding here anyway. 
     Why do I bring this up a few years later?  Because this morning one of the very first e-mails I had to read was from someone who concluded, on the basis of the edited second printing, that I was guilty of  mis-citing Geisler!  The sad irony is that I am the one constantly misrepresented by Geisler's appendix to his second edition (as documented in the URL above).  I invested so much time and effort in accurately citing and representing Dr. Geisler, and yet because of his editing of his own material I am left "holding the bag."  It was obvious the person writing just assumes Dr. Geisler could never make a basic error regarding Greek, and hence I must have been purposefully altering my citation (as if I needed to make some point!).

3/4/04:  Who Knows What This Means?
     Read the following passages in parallel: Mt. 27:35ff, Mark 15:24ff, Luke 23:33ff, and John 19:18ff.  Note a significant variation?  Then realize that the first sentence of Luke 23:34 is not found in the following witnesses: P75, a1, B D* W Q 070 579 1241 pc a sys sa bopt (I know, this is for Greek geeks....it's still interesting).  Cryptic?  Yes, but still interesting.  (B^D

3/3/04:  OK, This is Odd
Didn't get a chance to do much today...meetings and traffic.  But I was sent this utterly odd thing about the music for the Passion.  I'm starting to think working on the set of that film must have been very, very strange.  From MSNBC:

John Debney, who composed the music for “The Passion of the Christ,” says he did battle with Satan while scoring the flick.

Debney had written music for a number of movies such as “Liar, Liar,” “Spy Kids,” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer” — but he says he was visited by the devil while writing the score for the film about the last hours of Jesus Christ.

“I had never before subscribed to the idea that maybe Satan is a real person, but I can attest that he was in my room a lot and I know that he hit everyone on this production,” Debney said, according to a lengthy interview that ran on Assist News Service, a Christian news agency.

Debney claims that Satan’s image kept appearing on his computer screen while he was trying to compose music. “The first time it happened, it scared me,” he said. “Once I got over the initial shock of that, I learned to work around it and learned to reboot the computers and so I would start talking to him. . . . The computers froze for about the tenth time [one] day and it was about nine o’clock at night and so I got really mad and I told Satan to manifest himself and I said, ‘Let’s go out into the parking lot and let’s go.’ It was a seed change in me. I knew that this was war. I am not a physical person, but I was really angry on this occasion.”

3/2/04:  e`rmhnei,a (Explanation, Interpretation)
     Hebrews 1:3 calls Jesus the "exact representation" of the being of the Father.  The term translated here is carakth,r.  Its background can be traced to the concept of the impression made by a signet ring, creating an exact impression of the original.  Surely, no such term could be used of a mere creature, for the being of the Father is infinite in every way: to be the exact representation of the truly divine, the truly infinite, is to be divine and infinite as well.  In a recent debate with Greg Stafford, it was insisted that this passage actually makes Jesus a "copy" of God, with the insinuation being an inferior copy, and that the very term carries with it a temporality that means that Jesus was, at some point, created at a copy.  The problem with this is that not only does it read a concept into the term that it does not carry in and of itself, but it likewise assumes what it seeks to prove.  That is, if the relationship of the Father and the Son is eternal, it follows that Son's being the carakth,r of the Father cannot admit of temporality, but is, like their union, eternal.  The Son has eternally been the exact representation of the Father's being, just as He shared with the Father the essential glory of the godhead before time itself began (John 17:5).

Just noticed that an article I wrote last year for Modern Reformation is currently featured on their website: http://www.alliancenet.org/

I saw another pot-shot aimed my direction this morning by a fellow who decided both to rip on my church (Phoenix Reformed Baptist) and me as well.  These folks don't mind going after me...as long as I'm not around.  He made reference to a hit-piece written a few years ago by one of the oddest, most unhappy, and unlikable folks I've ever met, a fellow who has managed to even offend his "friends" repeatedly over the years.  This person calls Columbia Evangelical Seminary, where I did my graduate work in apologetics, a "degree mill."  I was thinking after reading his words yet again, "You'd think such a charge would be so easily proven, if true: just stinking buy this alleged degree!  Of course, they can't do it, because that is not how it works.  In fact, there are very few CES graduates simply because you actually have to know how to speak and write the English language, engage in self-disciplined learning, and do a tremendous amount of first-hand research and writing.  The more I see of "what's out there," the more thankful I become that I made the right choice, put ministry and church above politics, and undertook my graduate studies in the way I did. 

3/1/04:  Shepherds, Be Alert
     Well, the book arrived.  I refer to A Guide to the Passion: 100 Questions About The Passion of the Christ, a book designed especially to be given out by Catholics to folks who have seen The Passion of the Christ from Ascension Press, written by the Catholic Exchange.  The URL given for the book is: www.evangelization.com.  Notice that there are downloadable "devotional prayers" from the Rosary on the site, suggestions for how to evangelize for the "true faith," etc.  I told you RC apologists were rejoicing.  And here is a section from the Introduction of the book that pretty much says it all:

As someone involved in the distribution and marketing of the film, I noticed early on the fervor with which many Protestant communities were preparing to use the film for evangelistic purposes. Websites sprang up featuring downloadable materials about Jesus and the gospels. Marketing companies began churning out posters and flyers promoting the film and their own faith communities. Tracts poured into circulation making the case for Christ as the key to peace and happiness in life.

Yet, for all the sophisticated evangelization strategies, the irony is that our Protestant brothers and sisters cannot adequately speak to many of the issues and questions the film evokes because the film is so distinctly Marian, so - obviously Eucharistic, so quintessentially Catholic — as is the New Testament itself. In terms of effecting conversions and motivating people to weed out sin from their lives - which is what meditating on the Passion of Christ is all about--our evangelical friends have been an inspiration. But can their theology adequately or honestly mine such cinematic gems as the Last Supper flashbacks? Though the founders of some of the prominent Protestant denominations believed in and adored the Blessed Sacrament, this fact has been lost today in huge portions of American Protestantism. And without an understanding of Mary as our model in true Christian faith, one cannot begin to understand her significant role in the film. Only a solid understanding of the Catholic Faith can help us grasp these essential elements that figure so prominently in both in the Scriptural record and the apostolic Tradition.

The film quite accurately links the sacrifice of the cross with the sacrifice of the Mass. In doing so, it faithfully depicts biblical and Catholic teaching. Yet the Eucharistic connections between the Passion and the Mass are not obvious to many Catholics today. Indeed, speaking out of my own experience as a clueless Catholic ten years ago, I can only say that it’s highly unlikely that such connections are obvious even to those who have been born and raised in the Church. This is not because the connections are not there, but because so many people have not received an education in the Faith that equips them to see those connections, which are quite real and are, in fact, delineated for us in the teaching of the Church. Therefore, we at CatholicExchange.com see a need for this book to provide answers to some of the many questions critical to a full understanding of authentic Christianity - questions The Passion of The Christ will most certainly raise.

The book comes replete with a listing of suggested Roman Catholic resources, including the following reading list for non-Catholics:

For non-Catholic Christians:
Born Fundamentalist Born Again Catholic by David Currie
By What Authority? An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition by Mark P. Shea
Catholic and Christian by Alan Schreck
My Life on the Rock by Jeff Cavins
Rome Sweet Home by Scott and Kimberly Hahn
Surprised by Truth by Patrick Madrid
This is My Body: An Evangelical Discovers the Real Presence by Mark P. Shea
Why Do Catholics Genuflect? by Al Kresta

I'll read some more from the book tomorrow on the DL.  For those of you who thought I was being reactionary a few weeks ago in saying this movie is a Roman Catholic apologists' dream, well, tell me: will most of the evangelicals you know be ready with an answer to this kind of stuff? 


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