e-mail I get! If I took the time to actually look at all
the URL's sent my direction, I'd never do anything else.
The Internet has changed the face of apologetics in general,
sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Over
the past few weeks I've gotten some real nuclear bombs from
folks. I addressed some of them on the Dividing Line
broadcast of 6/10/00 (available at www.straitgate.com/aom).
It is fascinating, though, to note that two groups which
espouse VERY different theologies (Rome and Salt Lake), often
use the very same tactic in an attempt to defend their
positions by dehumanizing and attacking their opponents,
rather than dealing with the arguments of their
first example comes from the March, 2000 issue of Apologia, a
publication of Darryl Barksdale and FAIR, the "Foundation
for Apologetic Information and Research (ftp://www.fair-lds.org/pub/Vol3/March.PDF).
Here, on the first page, is a less-than-flattering picture of
myself along with the following caption: "Anti-Mormon
author James White, who used the "patsy approach" in
his book "Letters to a Mormon Elder." White
has consistently refused invitations to debate LDS apologists
and scholars in a live setting." We reproduce the picture
and caption here:
for those who care, for a more up-to-date picture, click
here and go to the bottom of the page).
are two major problems with the assertions made by Mr.
Barksdale here. First, many people, both LDS and
non-LDS, have noted the accuracy of the presentation
of Mormon belief in Letters to a Mormon Elder.
I had to choose between using some of the many real
letters I had from LDS missionaries and others, or using the
approach I did. Obviously, on any logical basis, the
real issue is, "Does Letters accurately present
the LDS position?" The answer is obviously,
more disturbing is the false assertion that I
"consistently refuse invitations to debate LDS apologists
and scholars in a live setting." Let's remember:
LDS scholars are not known for doing debates, are they?
And who is the one person who has often invited them to do
just that thing? Me! Who has appeared live
on radio with two BYU professors, with an LDS attorney as the
host of the program, on a radio station in Salt Lake City?
Me! (For the tape of this encounter, click
here, and look for tape #455). Over the course of
the past year I have contacted Daniel Peterson, William
Hamblin, John Tvedtnes, and others at BYU, asking them to
engage in an exegetical debate on our web page on key passages
relating to soteriology. They have declined.
We do not know of a single challenge from a single
LDS scholar for a live debate that we have declined: and we
challenge Mr. Barksdale to document not only one, but a
"consistent" pattern of such activity. Mr.
Barksdale claims that he has challenged me to debate in
Northern California. While I do not even recall such a
challenge, it would not surpise me a lot if Mr. Barksdale, at
some point in time, has said something about debating him in
public. But, as anyone can see from reading the debate
we did on our webpage (go to the online debate center to read
it), Mr. Barksdale didn't "fair" too well when it
came to handling scholarly material. In fact, in the
March edition of Apologia, he refers to Ignatius of Antioch as
Ignathius (he blames his secretary for that one), quotes from
the longer (and later) Latin version (without telling his
readers), and engages in enough eisegetical misuse of
Scripture to boggle the mind. But what other LDS
apologist is Mr. Barksdale referring to? Van Hale, with
whom I've done more than a dozen radio programs? Who?
It is ironic: years ago Patrick Madrid of Catholic Answers
tried to label me a "debate junkie," and yet Mr.
Barksdale says I'm afraid to do what I'm best known for.
What a strange world!
dishonest misrepresentation is not limited to LDS apologists
like Darryl Barksdale. No, Stephen Ray, Roman Catholic
apologist and author, likewise seems to be truth challenged
these days as well. Aside from producing the worst
examples of patristic chicanery (see a
recent example here), Ray likes to join Patrick Madrid and
the folks at Envoy in promoting the untruth that I believe the
early Fathers were "Protestants." Such is
simply absurd. When Envoy magazine ran a cover article
promoting this silliness, the Christian Research Journal was
kind enough to allow me some space to point out the absurdity
of the claim. This response was published on pages 52-53
of Volume 21, number 4. Recently an e-mail was forwarded
to me wherein Mr. Ray wrote:
right of course in your view of the Fathers. I
have had a long "history" with White and have his
books and know his shoddy arguments well. He does not
respect the Fathers like we Catholics do. He uses
them only to prove his point, kind of like weapons. He
takes their quotes out of context and does them great
injustice. [At this point he refers his correspondent to
articles on his webpage, including this response to the above
mentioned article, www.catholic-convert.com/webster/sermon131.html
Have no fear of White and Webster. They sound good
at first, especially if you want to believe them, but once you
look at them carefully, especially their abuse of the Fathers,
their disingenuity becomes quite apparent.
e-mail is dated 5/2/00.
Ray is known to Protestant apologists as the man
who argues from silence. His anachronistic
attempts to turn the early Fathers into faithful
followers of modern Romanism are almost the
stuff of legend, and would be humorous if they
were not resulting in such damage in the
personal lives of individuals who are deceived
by his writings. While he accuses me of
disrespecting the Fathers, is it showing respect
for Augustine, for example, to put words in his
mouth he never spoke? Is it showing
respect for the Fathers to force them into the
mold of modern Romanism, replete with doctrines
and beliefs they never embraced? Was it
fair for Mr. Ray to present a section on
Augustine that utterly ignores the vital
passages that demonstrate his higher commitment
to Scripture than to the opinion of the bishop
of Rome? The sad but true fact
is that it is Mr. Ray who is guilty of every
charge he makes against me, and any fair reading
of his work, Upon This Rock, bears this
out. There is no attempt made by Mr.
Ray to attain some level of fairness:
instead, this is a sterling example of the vain
attempt to create a "unanimous consent of
the Fathers," something honest Roman
Catholic scholars admit simply does not exist.
can allow the early Fathers to be....the early
Fathers? Protestants can. We can
allow them to teach everything they
taught, not just those parts that later Roman
tradition codified as doctrine or dogma.
We can accept the truths they lived and taught,
and reject the errors each man, as a fallible
human being, embraced. We do not have to
turn them into Protestants, and I have never
said they were. I have said that
they often expressed sentiments that are far
more Protestant than Roman Catholic in today's
context: Athanasius' standing on the foundation
of Scripture over against councils and bishops
and prelates is not the action you expect from a
Roman Catholic. It is the Roman Catholic
apologist who has to turn them into something
they were not, and this Steve Ray does in
of my favorite patristic citations might well
illustrate this. Augustine said:
things that are read from the Holy Scriptures in
order to our instruction and salvation, it
behooves us to hear with earnest heedů. And
yet even in regard of them, (a thing which ye
ought especially to observe, and to commit to
your memory, because that which shall make us
strong against insidious errors, God has been
pleased to put in the Scriptures, against which
no man dares to speak, who in any sort wishes to
seem a Christian), when He had given Himself to
be handled by them, that did not suffice Him,
but He would also confirm by means of the
Scriptures the heart of them that believe for He
looked forward to us who should be afterwards;
seeing that in Him we have nothing that we can
handle, but have that which we may read." Nicene
and Post-Nicene Fathers, First Series Volume
VII, Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John,
Homily 2, 1 John 212-17, section 1.
these the words of a modern Roman Catholic who
subjects himself to the ultimate authority of
the infallible Magisterium in Rome?
Are these the words of a Roman Catholic
apologist who is often telling us about how
Jesus did not command the apostles to write
but instead to preach?
Roman apologists are always saying that sola
scriptura is responsible for doctrinal
chaos, yet, Augustine taught that it is the
Scriptures that make us strong against insidious
errors! Remember, this man did not believe
in an infallible Papacy, did not believe in such
dogmas as indulgences, the treasury of merit,
transubstantiation, the Immaculate Conception,
the Bodily Assumption, etc. and etc., yet, we
are asked to believe he was a Roman Catholic?
One truly has to wonder if, when men like Steve
Ray accuse us of misusing the Fathers,
they are not really just attempting to quiet
their own consciences and hide from the simple
facts of history.