[Note: Many of the hyperlinks on this page must
be read to understand the commentary.]
I couldn't agree more with James' technique for identifying a
church: "Well, you ask the folks what they
believe, and determine their theological beliefs from that."
This approach is very logical and certainly makes the delineation
between us quite noticeable. I will use his methodology to
show that whatever church he claims membership in is not the same
Church of the Council of Nicæa. Remember: James White
"accepts" The Nicene Council as valid and
authoritative, but says it is not Roman Catholic.
To organize his presentation, James used five categories of
doctrines not believed or practiced in the Nicene Church
(according to him). I will use these same categories as my
to the Bishop of Rome as the Vicar of Christ, the head of the
universal Church, the pastor of all Christians."
For this section, I will simply rely on the writings and
history of Athanasius. This Catholic Bishop said, "For this
will seem to be most good and very proper, if to the HEAD that is
the SEE of PETER the APOSTLE, the BISHOPS of the Lord shall refer
FROM ALL provinces." (Letter from the Bishops of the Council
of Sardica -- including Athanasius -- to Pope Julius.)
Athanasius, in his Defense
against the Arians called the (local) Council of Sardica
a "Great Council." This Council, in two of its canons
(3 and 6), graphically states the primacy of the Roman Pontiff
over other bishops. These canons were no doubt in Athanasius'
mind when, around 360 he noted in De
Synodis that "
a charge had been laid by some
people against the bishop of Alexandria before the bishop of
Rome... [Pope Julius]" Athanasius himself had been
personally vindicated by Pope Julius after he appealed to the
Holy Father. He appealed not only in writing, but in person,
traveling all the way to Rome whither he stayed for three years.
What's more interesting is that the Eusebians (the bad guys) also
asked the Pope to judge in the matter.
Athanasius himself quotes this same pontiff rebuking the
Eusebians for bypassing his authority (which he "received
from the blessed Apostle Peter") in condemning the church of
the Alexandrians. (Apologia
Contra Arianos 35)
Writing about a pre-nicene condemnation of
Arianism, he says
"For Dionysius, Bishop of Rome, having written also against
those who said that the Son of God was a creature and a created
thing, it is manifest that not now for the first time but from
old the heresy of the Arian adversaries of Christ HAS BEEN
ANATHEMATIZED BY ALL." (De
Not the Universal Pastor?
believe in the Marian doctrines that set Rome apart,
such as the Immaculate Conception of Mary and her Bodily
Since no Marian doctrines were addressed at the Council, I
will not go into detail here. The Marian doctrines were touched
upon in my opener and will be more thoroughly explored in our
next debate. For now, I will refer the reader back to here for a refutation.
embrace such concepts as the thesaurus meritorum,
purgatory, and indulgences
Lest James accuse us of "cut and paste" methods with
our patristic sources (used, no less, in a "willy-nilly
fashion"), we will confine ourselves to the mere mention of
a few names of Fathers who affirm the truth of Purgatory: Sts.
Epiphanius of Salamis, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom,
Augustine, Cyril of Jerusalem, Tertullian, Perpetua. If James is
interested in examining our willy-nilliness, he can ask us for
references in the Q&A section.
Now, for a little more of James White's intellectual insanity,
we direct your attention to some of Luther's 95 Theses
found posted on his web page. We only speculate that White had an
anti-Catholic intention in mind when he posted these. You figure
7. God never remits guilt to anyone without, at the same
time, making humbly submissive to the priest, His representative.
9. Accordingly, the Holy Spirit, acting in the person of
the pope, manifests grace to us, by the fact that the papal
regulations always cease to apply at death, or in any hard case.
16. There seems to be the same difference between hell,
purgatory, and heaven as between despair, uncertainty, and
17. Of a truth, the pains of souls in purgatory ought to
be abated, and charity ought to be proportionately increased.
25.The same power as the pope exercises in general over
purgatory is exercised in particular by every single bishop in
his bishopric and priest in his parish.
26. The pope does excellently when he grants remission
to the souls in purgatory on account of intercessions made on
their behalf, and not by the power of the keys (which he cannot
exercise for them).
73. In the same way, the pope rightly excommunicates
those who make any plans to the detriment of the trade in
74. If therefore, indulgences were preached in
accordance with the spirit and mind of the pope, all these
difficulties would be easily overcome, and indeed, cease to
James White: Did you bother to read the 95 Theses before
posting them on your web site? To reiterate an important point
made by Prof. White in Paragraph #1: "Well, you ask the
folks what they believe, and determine their theological beliefs
from that." His acceptance of Luther's 95 Theses,
coupled with his rejection of the doctrines of Purgatory and
indulgences, forms a contradiction. Can we expect an explanation
Luther confesses that not only does the Pope exercise
authority over Purgatory, but even the bishops and ordinary
priests in their parishes. Two questions here: 1) Does the
Reformed Baptist Church of James White have bishops and priests?
2) Do they exercise authority over Purgatory as their
Now really James: Does it look like Martin Luther would agree
with you in your trashing of Purgatory and indulgences? I think
he would more likely say: "Let him be anathema and
accursed who denies the apostolic character of the
indulgences." (#71 of 95.)
Rhetorical question, James: was Martin Luther 1) a member of
the Church of Nicæa, 2) a Roman Catholic or 3) something new
under the sun?
Regarding the thesaurus meritorum (treasury of merit):
not only did the Church of Nicæa believe it because it was a
tradition from the Apostles, but it is clearly found in
Holy Scripture. Matt. 19:21, Mark 10:21, Luke 12:33, Luke 18:22
all indicate that there is merit for doing good works. All deal
with the "treasure in heaven" given those who do
charitable works. If James White wishes to deny Scriptural facts
which are so clear, then surely he will lose his credibility.
believe in the Roman concept of authority, replete
with extra-biblical, revelatory or inspired
"traditions" that add to the "deposit of
faith" items and beliefs not found in Scripture
Oral tradition is, of course, provable from scripture. We read
2 Thes. 2-15:
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the
traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our
Furthermore, can you tell me what Christ was revealing to His
Apostles in Acts 1:3 if it was not doctrine meant to be received
by the ministers of His Church by way of oral tradition?
"To whom He shewed Himself alive after His passion, by
many proofs, for forty days appearing to them, and speaking of
the kingdom of God."
Where in the New Testament can we find all the words spoken by
Our Lord during the forty days after his Resurrection?
Is not all of God's revelation important, especially when He
speaks of the Kingdom of God, His Church? Luke 4:4:
"And Jesus answered him: it is written that man liveth
not by bread alone, but by every word of God."
EVERY word is important. Do you mean to tell me that not even
one of those words, which Jesus spoke during that specific period
of time, was passed on orally? The burden of refutation is on
your shoulders, James White.
White Claims: "Many Roman apologists have realized
the impossibility of tracing many modern Roman dogmas to the
primitive Church and have, as a result, abandoned the historical
field of battle at this point."
Really? I would like to know who these Roman apologists are
that find it impossible to trace many Roman dogmas to the
primitive Church. (If that is the case, then it is recommended
that they find new work, and don't give up their day jobs.) I dare
James White to offer me one Roman Catholic dogma
which he believes cannot be traced to the primitive Church.
Whatever formal teachings found in His Church at any time of
history must have originated from Christ Himself directly or
through the Apostles. Our Lord's very own words guarantee the
infallibility of the teachings of His Church:
"He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth
you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that
sent me." (Luke 10:16)
"And behold I am with you all days, even to the
consummation of the world." (Matt. 28:20)
There was no universal church in existence at the time of the
Council of Trent that would dare claim physical and doctrinal
"genealogy" back to the Apostles except for the
Catholic Church (and the eastern schismatic churches). Would
James care to produce counter evidence? Were not all of
the major Reformers ex-Catholics?
If the above scriptural quotes are true and inerrant, then
certainly there was a Church in existence in the 16th
century which could claim to have preserved the teachings
inherited from the Apostles by oral and written tradition. James
White denies it was the Roman Catholic Church. If it wasn't that
Church, then tell us James, which visible body was the True
Church, and why weren't the Reformers members of that Church? Why
were they originally Roman Catholic? If James answers that the
Reformers were returning to original and true Christianity,
because Rome departed from it, then how is it the Reformers (when
regrouping) excluded the Pope, who existed, according to him,
even during Nicæa? (White simply calls him the Bishop of Rome.
If White acknowledges the existence, authority and legitimacy of
the Bishop of Rome in the fourth century, then would he be kind
enough to name the successors of that bishop up to and including
the twentieth century?) Why did they abandon the Papacy? You see,
according to non-Catholic "christians," the Papacy has
been part of the Roman Catholic Church at least since the fourth
century. Maybe James implies that the Great Apostasy occurred in
the fourth century, as many non-Catholics claim? If that didn't
happen, James, then in subsequent centuries beyond the Council of Nicæa, identify by name, members of the visible
True Catholic Church. I choose the eighth century as a focal
point. If you don't answer this here, you will be forced to do so
in the Q&A section where one cannot skirt issues.
This may be a good place for James White to explain what he
means by the this line excerpted
from his "Statement of Belief."
James, would you explain what you mean by "general
revelation?" And how can revelation that is
"supernatural" be anything other than infallible? To
say otherwise is self-contradictory. If you are sure it is from
God, you can call it supernatural. How can it NOT be infallible?
Can God err? If you are not sure it is from God, then why do you
call it "supernatural?"
This sentence in
paragraph 29 is pregnant with meaning: James has revealed one of
the cardinal weaknesses of Protestantism, and, at the same time,
he has shown why it was so necessary that I spend as much time as
I did in my opener on the concept of continuity of religion.
Simply put, if the three religions named by the Prof. are not the
Church of Nicæa, and if the Church of Nicæa was the true
Christian Church, then none of these sects are the true Church.
But if the Church of Nicæa continued as God intended, and can be
found today as a modern reality, then which one is it? James
admits it's not Protestantism; but, as any reader of this debate
can tell, WE have not given up the ghost. Nicæa is Roman
Catholic in its doctrinal content, and its hero, Athanasius, was
a Roman Catholic. (Not even a Reformed Baptist).
James claims there is a "fundamental disjunction"
between the teachings and beliefs of the Nicene Church and those
of the modern Roman Catholic Church. If that is true, then he
himself has a responsibility to be able to identify those
doctrines taught at the Council of Nicæa that are now formally
rejected by the Roman Catholic Church. Similarly: Can James
White state unequivocally that he embraces all of the doctrinal
teachings disseminated by the Nicene Council the same way we
Roman Catholics do? I, for one, reject not even one of those
James spends #34-39 on
Athanasius, a section in which he does
some willy-nillying of his own: He accurately quotes Athanasius partially
and out-of-context, only the Saint goes on to say
but the ill disposition and the versatile and
crafty irreligion of Eusebius and his fellows, compelled the
Bishops, as I said before, to publish MORE DISTINCTLY the terms
which overthrew their irreligion..." (Decretis
32) More distinct than Scripture? How can that be? (Sarcasm
intended). What "extra-biblical" standard could
possibly permit the Nicene Fathers to reformulate the content of
Scripture in their own words? Athanasius himself will give us the
key to this when he says:
"But beyond these [Scriptural] sayings, let us look
at the very tradition, teaching, and faith of the Catholic Church
from the beginning, which the Lord gave, the Apostles preached,
and the Fathers kept. Upon this the Church is founded, and he who
should fall away from it would not be a Christian and should no
longer be called" (Ad Serapion 1:28)
"But you are blessed, who by faith are in the
Church, dwell upon the foundations of the faith, and have full
satisfaction, even the highest degree of faith which remains
among you unshaken. For it has come down to you from APOSTOLIC
TRADITION, and frequently accursed envy has wished to unsettle
it, but has not been able" (Festal
These, and the above quotes from Athanasius should settle the
issue of that Father's Catholicity.
practice the necessary devotions to reserved, consecrated hosts
that would substantiate the leap from a belief in "real
presence" to the much later belief in
James has approached the brink of dementia at this point. The
belief in the doctrine of Jesus' Real Presence in the Eucharist -
a doctrine James admits is historically provable, but one he
rejects as a Protestant - finds its devotional expression in
reserving the Sacrament in our tabernacles for private adoration.
(We hope this fact gives the reader some insight into the
"logic" of James White.) The fact that this particular
devotion was not practiced in the time or region of the Council
of Nicæa is a moot point. (If James wants to know why it wasn't
practiced, I'd be happy to let him know in the Q&A section).
He would like to make "transubstantiation" depend on
reservation of the Host, where as "transubstantiation"
is proven from the doctrine of the Real Presence - a doctrine
James concedes as "Nicene" (even though he rejects it).
This is something of a catechism lesson for James on what
Transubstantiation is: In between "bread" and
"Real Presence" what happens? In other words, we know
the early Christians weren't worshipping bread as God - that's
idolatry (right?); so when the priest said certain words on the
altar and then the people worshipped - as God - that which had
formerly been bread, what do we call this change? The correct
philosophical word is "Transubstantiation." That's not
too difficult, is it? The Copts, who went into schism from Rome
in 451 and the Greeks, who did so in 1054 both believe this same
doctrine of Transubstantiation. James' point here is either
totally dishonest or pathetic and maybe a little of both.
By the way, James, since you complain that we Romans leaped
from a belief in the "Real Presence" to
"Transubstantiation.": Do YOU believe in the Real
Presence? A simple "Yes" or "No" will
suffice. The audience awaits your response. ???????????
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