Saturday, May 21, 2005

Papacy & prophecy

Vatican I says the following:



Session 3: 24 April 1870

Dogmatic constitution on the Catholic faith

On faith

4. Nevertheless, in order that the submission of our faith should be in accordance with reason, it was God's will that there should be linked to the internal assistance of the Holy Spirit external indications of his revelation, that is to say divine acts, and first and foremost miracles and prophecies, which clearly demonstrating as they do the omnipotence and infinite knowledge of God, are the most certain signs of revelation and are suited to the understanding of all.

5. Hence Moses and the prophets, and especially Christ our lord himself, worked many absolutely clear miracles and delivered prophecies; while of the apostles we read: And they went forth and preached every, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it [18]. Again it is written: We have the prophetic word made more sure; you will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place [19].


Needless to say, appeal to the oracular character of Moses and the OT prophets is only as good as the traditional authorship of the OT.

This is what John-Paul II has to say about the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch:


From the point of view of biblical criticism, it is necessary to mention immediately that the first account of man's creation is chronologically later than the second. The origin of this latter is much more remote. This more ancient text is defined as "Yahwist" because the term "Yahweh" is used to denominate God. It is difficult not to be struck by the fact that the image of God presented there has quite considerable anthropomorphic traits (among others, we read in fact that "...the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (Gen 2:7).

In comparison with this description, the first account, that is, the one held to be chronologically later, is much more mature both as regards the image of God, and as regards the formulation of the essential truths about man. This account derives from the priestly and "elohist" tradition, from "Elohim", the term used in that account for God.


And this is what Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XIV, has to say about the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch:


The moment when creation became a dominant theme occurred during the Babylonian Exile. It was then that the account that we have just heard—based, to be sure, on very ancient traditions—assumed its present form.

“In the Beginning…” (Eerdmans 1995), 10-11.


Anyone conversant with the history of higher criticism can see that the position staked out by John-Paul II and Benedict XVI is a variant on the old Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis.

And this also is what Ratzinger has to say about authorship of Daniel:


We have today good reason to date the book of Daniel in its present form from 167 to 163 B.C., that is, to a time when Israel's faith was harshly persecuted by the Hellenistic kind, Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Through extreme tribulations the faith of God's people and its historical hope seemed to have definitively reached a dead end. As a result, however, the prophet had a new vision of history in its totality.

J. Ratzinger, THE GOD OF JESUS CHRIST (Franciscan Herald Press 1979), 55.

Posted by Steve Jackson


In other words, the Book of Daniel does not record the oracles of the 6C prophet, even though that is what it says (cf. Dan 8:1; 9:2,20; 10:2)—an attribution confirmed by Jesus Christ (Mt 24:15).

To judge by this, one assumes that Ratzinger would also deny the Isaian authorship of Isa 40-66.

It is striking that the highest reaches of the magisterium feel free to deny what an ecumenical council affirms. Yet that is standard operating procedure in contemporary Catholic circles.

If OT “prophecy” can be reconstrued as retrodictive (vaticinium ex eventu) rather than predictive, then the argument from prophecy codified by Vatican I is effectively abrogated by the modern magisterium and its functionaries.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Catholic counterchurch

Remember Gerry Matatics? He was the one-time PCA pastor who made a name for himself by converting to Catholicism. Matatics used to agree with the Westminster Confession that the Pope was “that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God” (WCF 25.6).

That, however, was back in the bad old days when Matatics was still a Presbyterian minister. That was long before he began his spiritual pilgrimage—before he made his way across the Tiber to the true church.

But having converted to Roman Catholicism, Matatics has gone all the way from believing that the Pope is the Antichrist to believing that the Pope is…the Antichrist.

Well, maybe not all of them. But John XXIII, Paul VI, John-Paul II, and Benedict XVI—for starters.

I don’t know what he thinks of Pius XII, who got the ball rolling on higher criticism.

He cites 2 Thes 2 as a prooftext for this dubious distinction—which just so happens to be a prooftext supplied by the Westminster Divines as well.

Citing the “prophetic” words of the late Archbishop Sheen, this is how Matatics describes the present state of the Catholic Church:

“Satan will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content.”

His high calling is now to save the papacy from the Pope.

Such is the strange odyssey of Gerry Matatics, who converted to a mirage, a simulacrum of “authentic” Catholicism, buried beneath the edifice of Vatican II.


Our Mission, and Archbishop Sheen's Prophecy

The mission of this apostolate, Biblical Foundations International, is two-fold:

1) To demonstrate the Biblical foundations of the Catholic Faith, in order to vindicate authentic Catholicism, not Protestantism, as the real "Bible-believing Christianity," and to expose the varieties of Protestantism as man-made frauds.

2) To equally expose the "neo-Catholicism" that has taken over the structures of the Catholic establishment since the Second Vatican Council as being a counterfeit Catholicism, whose radical departures from traditional Catholic teaching, worship, and life have over the last forty years (a biblical "generation") successfully robbed millions of Catholics of the faith of their fathers.

This second aspect of our apostolate is no less Biblically based than the first. Our Lord Jesus Christ warned us in Sacred Scripture of a spiritual seduction in the last days involving the appearance of "the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place" (St. Matthew 24:15) -- i.e., something abominable or abhorrent (in the eyes of God) that would make the Church desolate (again, in the eyes of God; outwardly, the Church might seem to be as populated as ever) placed right in the very heart of the Church. In this same passage our Lord also warned that false teaching would be so pervasive and potent, this counterfeit Catholicism so cunning and clever, that, if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived (St. Matthew 24:4, 11, 22, 24). The result of these two factors -- the abomination of desolation, the near-universal acceptance of pseudo-Catholic doctrine -- would be, according to Our Lord Himself, that, when He does finally return, He will hardly find anyone still holding to the true Faith (St. Luke 18:8). St. Paul likewise speaks of these same two factors when he speaks of the unprecedented apostasy of the last days prior to the return of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:3-11), which will successfully claim the souls of all those who do not love the truth above every other consideration (verses 10-11).

Many neo-Catholics of our day dismiss this as "extreme traditionalism," but they forget (or perhaps, in their "extreme ignorance," never knew) that, for example, the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, for whom many of them profess a great reverence, predicted the same thing, long before the current crisis:

"He [Satan] will set up a counterchurch which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ. . . .But the twentieth century will join the counterchurch because it claims to be infallible when its visible head speaks ex cathedra" (Fulton J. Sheen, Communism and the Conscience of the West, Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill,1948, pp. 24-25, emphasis mine).


Is the atonement child abuse?

I’ve been reading D. A. Carson’s new book on Becoming Conversant with the Emerging Church (Zondervan 2005). Among other things, he quotes some statements from the two premier leaders of the emergent church moment.

On the doctrine of penal substitution, Brian McLaren puts these words into the mouth of a fictitious character: “That sounds like one more injustice in the cosmic equation. It sounds like divine child abuse. You know?” (Ibid. 166).

According to Carson, McLaren simply leaves that objection hanging in the air. Then he quotes a longer passage from Steve Chalke:


The fact is that the cross isn’t a form of cosmic child abuse—a vengeful Father, punishing his Son for an offense he has not even committed. Understandably, both people inside and outside of the Church have found this twisted version of events morally dubious and a huge barrier to faith. Deeper than that, however, is that such a concept stands in total contradiction to the statement that “God is love.” If the cross is a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son, then it makes a mockery of Jesus’ own teaching to love your enemies and to refuse to reply evil with evil (ibid. 185).


Now, I have not, admittedly, read these passages in the original. And I must say that statements like these do not inspire me to invest any money in the originals. Since, however, McLaren has endorsed Chalke’s book (as has N. T. Wright, take note), and since Chalke’s has since defended his denial of vicarious atonement, this seems to be representative of what they truly believe.

That said, some comments are sorely in order:

1.There is an extensive exegetical literature in defense of penal substitution. Do Chalke and McLaren ever interact with this literature?

Do they care what the Bible has to say on the subject? Let us remember that Christianity presents itself to the world a revealed religion. Theology must be based on God’s self-revelation, and not some preconception of what God ought to be like.

Nor will it do for Chalke or McLaren to retreat into exegetical uncertainties or sectarian diversities, for they themselves have come down very firmly on one side of the issue.

2.Likewise, the “injustice” of vicarious atonement is an old canard, repeatedly posed and repeated answered. Chalke and McLaren act as though this objection had never been raised before, much less answered before—time and again.

Are they ignorant? Or are they both too dishonest to acknowledge the answers and tell us what is wrong with the answers? And if they cannot find fault with the answers, they should withdraw their objection.

3.The Bible never says that Christ is God’s “child.” In Scriptural usage, sonship and childhood have very different connotations. “Childhood” conjures up an image of immaturity and vulnerability.

But, in Scripture, sonship in general, and with special reference to Christ, in particular, conveys at least two ideas.
i) The Son of God is consubstantial with the Father. For the sonship of Christ is a divine title.
ii) A son, especially an only-son or firstborn son (both applied to Christ) is his father’s heir. This, in Scripture, points us to the kingship of Christ.

4. The Bible does depict God as a vengeful God. God is the Judge of mankind. The fact that “vengeance” has acquired odious connotations in liberal discourse is no argument against the presence of this divine role in Scripture, or its moral rectitude.

“ Vengeance” is just another word for justice. Justice is not immoral. Justice is the very essence of morality.

5.In orthodox Christology, Christ is not an unwilling or defenseless little child. Rather, he is true God and true man. He is a divine person—the omnipotent Son of God--as well as a mature man. His mission and submission are voluntary (e.g., Jn 10).

6.This is, indeed, a barrier to faith for many unbelievers. But that’s the scandal of the cross. That’s the offense of the gospel.

7.To characterize penal substitution as “a personal act of violence perpetrated by God towards humankind but borne by his Son” is self-contradictory gibberish. The whole point of “vicarious” atonement is that the wrath of God is not “perpetrated”—note the loaded language--towards humanity in general, but is concentrated in the person of the Redeemer for the sake of the redeemed.

8.To set this in opposition to the love of God is a perverse misrepresentation. It is out of God’s gracious love for the elect that the Son of God dies in their stead. God has show his utter love for the elect by exacting his justice on the person of his Son rather than mankind as a whole.

The love of God does not negate the justice of God. Indeed, the reprobate will face the judgment of God. But perhaps Chalke is a universalist.

9. To allude to the Sermon on the Mount in this context takes the text out of context and begs the question entirely. Penal substitution is not an “evil” (cf. Mt 20:28). Rather, redemption is the expression of God’s unmerited mercy towards the enemies of God (Rom 5:6-11).

Admittedly, not all of God’s enemies are redeemed, but redemption itself is an act of love towards the redeemed

McLaren and Chalke are driving a stake into the very heart of the Gospel. If this is at all representative of the emergent church movement, then that's all you need to know.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Favorite fallacies-2


The disputant “disproves” the opposing position by showing that, if true, certain unacceptable consequences would follow; hence, it must be false.

As a rule, a consequentialist argument is invalid, for two reasons:
i) The disputant is often guilty of begging the question by assuming, all along, that said consequences are, in fact, unacceptable. All he has done is to apply his own standards to the question at hand. There is no necessary reason why his opponent should take that for granted. And the disputant has done nothing to justify his own standards. Indeed, his opponent may be well aware of the consequences.

For example, a universalist will argue that “since God is a God of love, hell is a false doctrine.” But a Christian will simply reverse the equation: “Since hell is for real, the universalist has a false doctrine of God.”

ii) The disputant is operating with a perfectionist philosophy of history. But given the existence of evil, we’re in no position to predict or speculate about just what consequences are unacceptable in the economy of God. Bad things happen all the time, in the furtherance of a higher end.

But there are also a couple of cases in which a consequentialist objection is valid:
i) If the disputant’s opponent would agree that said consequences undermine his own precommitments.

For example, if my opponent believes in the inerrancy of Scripture, and I show that a position of his is logically inconsistent with inerrancy, then that consequence should prompt him to reconsider his position.

ii) If said consequences undermine the truth-conditions of reason in general. For example, Alvin Plantinga has argued that evolutionary epistemology is self-refuting, for it undercuts the very basis of rationality. If evolution is true, then it’s false.


The disputant uses the same word in two (or more senses), trading on one sense in one occurrence to lend a surplus sense to the same word in another occurrence.

For example, a Catholic will transfer all the promises made to the NT “church” to the Roman Catholic Church, and then appeal to the NT to prove his doctrine of the church. But this commits a fallacy of equivocation by assuming, without benefit of argument, that whenever the NT talks about the “church,” it must be referring to the Roman Catholic Church.


Christians who deny special redemption typically appeal to the “pantos” passages of Scripture. But this confuses extension (referent) with intension (sense). A universal quantifier has a standard intension, but a variable extension. And that follows from the nature of a quantifier, which is necessarily general and abstract rather than specific and concrete marker. That’s what makes it possible to plug in concrete content. A universal quantifier is a class quantifier. As such, it can have no fixed range of reference. In each case, that must be supplied by the concrete context and specific referent. In other words, a universal quantifier has a definite intension but indefinite extension. So its extension is relative to the level of generality of the reference-class in view. Thus, there is no presumption in favor of taking “all” or “every” as meaning everyone without exception. “All” or “every” is always relative to all of something:


Every argument from analogy assumes an element of disanalogy. The trick is for the parallel to hold fast at the critical point of comparison.

For example, unbelievers like to lump Christians with other religious believers like Muslims, and then blame Christians for all the “religious” violence in the world today. But this is obviously a false analogy, for it operates at too high a level of abstraction. Yes, Christians and Muslims are both “religious,” but this hardly makes a Christian complicit for what a Muslim does—especially when a Muslim is motivated by a distinctive jihadist ethic direct against Christians! One might as well say that Gandhi is to blame for Stalinism since both men were statesmen.

Analogical reasoning is a fundamental feature of human reason in general, as well as religious epistemology in particular. So analogical arguments need to be judged on a case-by-case basis.


A false antithesis assumes that there are only two sides to every question. And that is sometimes the case. But there is no rule of thumb in this matter.

For example, a Catholic will say that an infallible Bible without an infallible teacher is a recipe for religious uncertainty. Yet that ignores a third option, which is the providence of God. Sola Scriptura was never meant to operate in a Deistic vacuum.


It is common to see opposing positions ranged along a linear continuum, from left to right. There is nothing wrong with this.

Yet oftentimes, this schema becomes a lazy short-cut for serious discussion. The disputant will dismiss his opponent as an “extremist,” or “rightwing fanatic” who is “out of the mainstream” of public opinion.

But aside from the fact that the disputant is to the far left end of the spectrum, and therefore just as “extreme” or “out of the mainstream” as his opponent, to simply slap a figurative label on your opponent is in no way a refutation of his position.

To begin with, this linear scheme is just a metaphor. Right and wrong do not occupy compass points. They do not answer to spatial coordinates.

To merely classify your opponent by this figurative convention does not rise to the level of an argument. To refute him, you need to attach an argument to the label. Why is it wrong to be on that end of the spectrum?


The disputant assumes that the future will resemble the past. This is the basis of Hume’s probabilistic argument against the occurrence of miracles. It is especially odd in Hume’s case since he denied that natural cases were even observable, much less provable.


This is a general case of the ad hominem attack. However, the genetic fallacy tends to focus on the history of ideas rather than the immediate origin of an individual’s ideas.

For example, a unitarian will tell a Christian that he shouldn’t believe in the Trinity because this dogma was promulgated by ecumenical councils under the arm-twisting of the Roman emperor. But even if that were true, it is irrelevant to the Biblical basis of the Trinity.


The disputant appeals to a consensus of opinion to prove his case. And he will often grease his appeal with a question-begging adjective: “All reputable scientists believe in evolution”; “all civilized countries ban capital punishment.”

To mention a couple of basic problems with this appeal:
i) A consensus may not reflect an independent convergence of critical thinking but, to the contrary, the result of coercive peer pressure.
ii) A consensus of opinion is a shifting thing. If a present consensus of opinion can invalidate a past consensus, then a future consensus can invalidate a present consensus. If we have no faith in the past, why have any faith in the present, which will soon be past?


This is a special case of the straw man argument. The disputant imputes his own assumptions and standards to his opponent, and then accuses him of hypocrisy for failing to measure up.


The disputant makes an illicit leap from what is to what ought to be. A classic example is the way a bureaucracy defends its policies: “We’ve always done it this way!”

To defend your policy by appealing to your policy when your policy is the very thing at issue is a special case of begging the question.


The disputant will stereotype his opponent as belonging to a suspect class, viz., all Christians are fundamentalists, all fundamentalists are ignorant.


This is a special case of the straw man argument. A theological opponent will offer a carefully caveated version of his position. The disputant will drop all the caveats, and attack this simplistic version of the opposing position.


The disputant will place a more specific construction on a verse of Scripture than the Scripture will bear. For example, a Roman Catholic will treat any favorable reference to the NT church as a direct reference to the Roman Catholic Church.

A Protestant can be guilty of this too, as when he treats any reference to the Antichrist as a direct prophecy of the papacy.


The disputant misrepresents his opponent’s view by lifting an isolated sentence two out of context.

At the same time, there is nothing necessarily wrong with commenting on an excerpt as long as that is representative of your opponent’s position.

Sometimes an opponent will claim that he was quoted out of context. But if you ask him to supply the context, he will quickly change the subject.


The disputant will ground his claim in an explanation which needs, in turn, to be grounded.

For example, a Catholic apologist will say we can’t be sure of what the Bible means unless we have a divine teaching office. But, if so, that only pushes the problem back a step, for the same hermeneutical difficulties will reappear in the divine teaching office.

Likewise, a Catholic apologist will say that Jesus could not be sinless unless his mother was sinless. But by that logic, Mary could not be sinless unless her parents were sinless, and their parents, and so on. Hence, the only way to exempt Mary from original sin would be to do away with the doctrine or original sin entirely.


The disputant skews the evidence for or against his position by a selective appeal to the evidence.

A classic example is polling data, which depends on the sample group and the way in the questions are framed.

Again, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with a statistical analysis of opinion. But the methodology needs to be even-handed.


The disputant maps dogmatic usage back onto Biblical usage, then appeals to Biblical usage, thus redefined, to disprove dogmatic usage. For example, some Arminians appeal to Mt 23:37, Lk 7:30, Acts 7:51, Gal 2:21; 5:4, 2 Cor 6:1; & Heb 12:15 to disprove “irresistible grace.”

Mt 23:37 alludes to a conditional covenant with the house of Israel (v38; cf. Jer 12:7; 22:5). This is preceptive, not decretive. If we want to find an example of God’s decretive will in Matthew, turn to 11:21-23.

Lk 7:30 has reference to the preaching of John the Baptist. In this verse, “God’s will“ stands for the baptism of repentance. This is preceptive, not decretive. Furthermore, the verb (“rejected”) could just as well take the prepositional phrase (“for themselves”) rather than the noun (“God’s will”) for its object. See the commentaries by Bock, Evans, and Meyer.

Acts 7:51 has reference, not to the internal work of the Spirit, but to the agency of the Spirit in the inspiration of the prophetic word—both in OT preaching (e.g. Num 27:14; Isa 63:10), and the charismatic kerygma of the NT Apostles and evangelists (e.g. Philip; Stephen). So this is preceptive.

In 2 Cor 6:1, I take the phrase about the “grace of God” to be a shorthand expression for “the gospel of the grace of God“ (cf. Acts 20;24), in contrast to a false gospel (2 Cor 11:4; cf. Gal 1:6ff.). This is preceptive.

Gal 2:21 & 5:4 have reference to the doctrine of grace rather than the grace of the doctrine. What people can resist is the doctrine of justification and not the experience of justification, which is a divine act. Once again, the emphasis is preceptive. Moreover, 5:4 is hortatory and hyperbolic. If Paul had believed that the Galatians were guilty of apostasy, he would hardly express confidence in their gracious perseverance (v10).

In Heb 12:15, we should resist the temptation to subjectivize the concept of grace. Throughout this letter, the author’s emphasis is on the phenomenology rather than psychology of faith. His few references to the work of the Spirit are confined to the Spirit’s agency in inspiration and the charismata or sign-gifts. The existential dimension is absent.

Another example is where Arminians treat the mere occurrence of words like “repentance” (Heb 6:2,6), “bought” (2 Pet 2:1), and “sanctify” (Heb 10:29), as if these were technical terms which carried the same specialized meaning as dogmatic usage, and then appeal to these verses to disprove perseverance or special redemption.

But Peter is not using the verb “to buy” as a synonym for penal substitution, which is a theological construct (cf. Isa 53; Rom 5; 2 Cor 5:18,21; Gal 3:13; Col 2:14; 1 Pet 2:24; 3:18). Rather, his usage is allusive of false OT prophets like Balaam (2:15; cf. Jude 11), as well as the Exodus generation (cf. Deut 32:6; 2 Sam 7:23)

The author of Hebrews is not using “repentance” in the rotund sense of the Westminster Confession: “repentance unto life is an evangelical grace…” (WCF 15).

Likewise, he is not using “sanctify” in the later dogmatic sense, but in the cultic sense of ritual purity (9:13,20; cf. Exod 29:21; Lev 16:19, LXX)). Notice that the apostate is “sanctified” by the blood of Christ, not the Spirit of God. This is a status, not a process. More generally, the author’s usage in Heb 6 and 12 goes back to the archetypal rebellion at Kadesh, recorded in Num 14 and expounded in Ps 95.


This is where a disputant uses one Bible writer’s usage to interpret another Bible writer’s usage. For example, James’ use of “justification” is employed to reinterpret Paul’s usage—and thereby disprove sola fide.

Or Paul’s use of “sanctification” is employed to interpret the sense of the word in Heb 10:29—and thereby disprove perseverance or special redemption.

But this is a fallacious procedure unless the disputant can show, independent of the comparison, that both writers are using the same word the same way.


The disputant will equate the mere occurrence of a word with a whole doctrine associated with the word.

For example, a Catholic will compare and contrast Paul’s doctrine of justification with James’ doctrine of justification. But the mere fact that James uses the word “justification” doesn’t mean that he even has a doctrine of justification. That would depend, not on the occurrence of the word, in isolation, but on a larger argument. Words and concepts are two different things.


Special pleading can take two or three forms:

i) The disputant doesn’t play by his own rules. He demands a special exemption from his own criteria when he gets in a bind.

For example, a Catholic apologist will urge you to convert to Catholicism because the RCC offers a degree of certainty not found in Evangelicalism. But when you bring up counterexamples, he will defend the bold claims of his church by retreating into uncertainty. Eventually, you end up with a tautology: the church is certain—except when it isn’t, and you can’t be certain of when the church is certain.

ii) The disputant introduces a makeshift harmonization that has no independent credibility except to salvage his original claim.

For example, the Watchtower will redefine the terms of fulfillment when one of its predictions goes awry.

iii) The disputant will build so many escape clauses into his theory that it is consistent with the absence of evidence or contrary lines of evidence. Examples include Darwinism, Marxism, ufology, and Freudian psychology.


The disputant imputes to his opponent a view which his opponent doesn’t hold, or else the worst possible version of a view he does hold, and then proceeds to rebut it.

For example, the liberal media habitually debunk the Christian faith by debunking a fallen Televangelist, instead of judging the case for the faith by its most astute spokesmen.

Likewise, Karl Keating, in his book “Catholicism and Fundamentalism,” takes aim at popular spokesmen like Swaggart and Boettner. Now, up to a point, there is nothing wrong with that inasmuch as a popularizer may be an influential voice. Still, that is no way to judge a belief-system. That is not the standard by which Keating would like his own church to be judged.


This is the flip-side of the ad hominem attack. The disputant appeals to all the good men and women who share his belief. In Catholicism, this is an appeal to the saints.

Yet a testimonial rarely has any bearing on doctrinal truths. One reason Christianity is a revealed religion is because many of its truths lie outside the realm of ordinary experience. They are either transcendent truths, or truths about unrepeatable events.


The disputant offers some trivial concession which has no bearing on his primary position in order to make himself look magnanimous and make his opponenet look petty if he doesn’t reciprocate.


The disputant poses a leading or loaded question. This is designed to shift the burden of proof or prejudice the answer.


The disputant will stipulate what counts as evidence. This takes different forms.

For example, in the creation/evolution debate, the Darwinist will insist that any evidence or implication of a supernatural agent (God) is out of court since, by definition, science only deals with natural phenomena.

Notice how this prejudges, in advance of empirical investigation, what science is allowed to discover. It prejudges what the world is like before it ever looks out the window.

Along the same lines is the claim that no reputable scientist disputes evolution. This arbitrarily redefines any dissident as disreputable, regardless of his credentials or arguments.


For further reading:

D. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies (Baker 1996).

J. Frame, The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (P&R 1987).

P. Geach, Logic Matters (Blackwell 1972).

_____Reason & Argument (U of California 1977).

Favorite fallacies-1

Although Triablogue is into more than apologetics, the defense of the faith once delivered is a major focal point. It is striking how many fallacies crop up with such frequency in theological debate, both between fellow believers as well as between believers and unbelievers.

In one sense this is not surprising, for if two people disagree, then one or both are wrong, in which case fallacious reasoning figured in the error.

Some fallacies are a result of careless reasoning or lack of mental discipline. Yet men often make the most elementary blunders in reasoning. This is more often due, not to lack of subtlety, but incentive. The impediment is moral rather than intellectual.

We see this all the time in politics, where a partisan will not give the opposing side a fair hearing, where he will willfully and maliciously misrepresent the opposing position, even after he’s been corrected.

Calvin described his Christian conversion in interesting terms. He didn’t say that his heart felt strangely warmed, like Wesley. He didn’t say that he made a decision for Christ, or invited Christ into his heart. Instead, he said that the Lord had made him teachable. A teachable spirit is a mark of a true believer.

I’d add that a sophisticated command of logic is no silver bullet. Run through a list of the great logicians, and they span the philosophical spectrum. But in the right hands, it does guard us against elementary mistakes which may figure in elemental beliefs.

When is a fallacy a fallacy? Some so-called fallacies are not necessarily fallacious. Distinctions must be drawn, and different situations taken into account.

Some Christians feel that there is something unspiritual about logic, yet Bible not only authorizes the principle of logical inference but also obligates its use. Let’s run through some examples. In his dialogue with the Devil (Mt 4:6-7), Jesus takes Deut 6:16 as a paradigm passage which exerts hermeneutical control over Ps 91:11-12. He reproves the Sadducees for their failure to see the relevance of Exod 3:6 to the afterlife (Mt 22:32). Gen 1:17 & 2:24 are taken as paradigm passages which serve as a check on the divorce provision in the Mosaic Law (Mt 19:4-9). In what appears to be an a fortiori argument, Christ’s use of a divine designation in the proper sense is justified by appeal to its use in the titular sense (Jn 10:34; cf. Ps 82:6). In defending his activity on the Sabbath, he employs a variety of argumentative strategies: argument from analogy (Jn 5:17; 7:23); a fortiori argument (Mt 12:5-6,12; Lk 13:15-16); hallowed example (Mt 12:3) principle over process (Mt 12:7); and relative rationale (Mk 2:27). Sometimes he poses a dilemma (Mt 21:24ff.; 22:45), while at other times he denies his opponents’ premise (Mt 19:8ff.; 22:29ff.).

Peter and Paul both derive the Messianic application of a Davidic Psalm from its inapplicability to David proper (Acts 2:25ff.; 13:13f.; cf. Ps 16:8ff.). By parity of reasoning, Peter arrives at the same interpretation of another Davidic Psalm (Acts 2:23; cf. Ps 110:1). Stephen deduces his “pilgrim theology” on the basis of relative chronology and geography (Acts 7). In proving sola fide , Paul employs a variety of argumentative strategies: by direct prooftexting (Gal 3:11; cf. Hab 2:4); by inference from election (Rom 8:34), or from the contrary consequence (Gal 3:10; cf. Deut 27:27); or from the converse implication of non-imputation (Rom 4:6ffl.; Ps 32:1-2); and on the basis of relative chronology (Rom 4:10ff.; Gal 3:17; cf. Gen 15:6). He infers mortification from union with Christ (Rom 6:1); assurance from special redemption (Rom 8:32,34); unconditional election from prenatal chronology (Rom 8:11; cf. Gen 25:23), and from the principle of soli deo gloria (Eph 2:9); as well as eschatological deliverance from justification (Rom 5:9-10). Joel 2:32 generates a chain of inferences consisting of four interconnected links (Rom 10:14-15). He also reasons from analogy (1 Cor 9:9; 1 Tim 5:18).
The author of Hebrews goes so far as to draw inferences from the very silence of Scripture (1:5,13; 7:3,14). He also draws counterfactual inferences (4:8; 7:11; 8:4,7; 10:2; 11:15). He is a master of the a fortiori argument (2:2f.; 7:7; 8:6; 9:13f.; 10:28; 12:25). He will exploit the incidental connotation of a modest qualifier (12:27). In order to establish the superiority of the New Covenant he employs a variety of argumentative strategies by drawing inferences from typology (10:2); the Resurrection (7:24), the new priesthood (7:12); and the divine oath (7:22).


An argument from authority is not necessarily fallacious. It can be fallacious if your opponent does not acknowledge the authority, or if the “authority” in question doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

In order to avoid a fallacious appeal, the disputant may need to offer a supporting argument for his authority source.

There are also cases in which the disputant doesn’t have to offer a supporting argument even if his opponent fails to acknowledge the authority in question. That would be in the event that it is unreasonable of the opponent not to acknowledge the authority in question.

For example, if you quote Bruce Metzger against a Jehovah’s Witness on the rendering of Jn 1:1, the burden of disproof is on the Jehovah’s Witness.

It can also be fallacious to argue from authority if the experts disagree. It is, for example, fallacious for a Darwinist to say that no serious scientist disputes evolution when, in fact, there are quite a number who do so.


The disputant defends his belief on the grounds that you can’t prove him wrong.

The problem here is that either he has a reason for what he believes or he doesn’t. If he has no reason, then there’s nothing to disprove in the first place since his belief is admittedly irrational.

If he has a reason, then it’s either a good reason for a bad reason. If a good reason, he should be able to defend his belief through reason. If a bad reason, then his belief is unwarranted—especially when attention is draw to its deficiencies.

From a theological standpoint, the Christian faith is a revealed religion. Hence, the burden is upon the believer to justify his faith as a faith founded on divine revelation. He only has a right to believe revealed truth.


This may or may not be a fallacy. It varies from case to case. As a rule, the absence of evidence is not evidence for the absence of an event.

For example, unbelievers often deny Bible history unless it is corroborated at every point. But this imposes an unreasonable standard on what we can expect to have survived the passage of time—not to mention the fact that some events are essentially private. The unbeliever has had many experiences of a personal nature for which there were no eyewitnesses or other records.

On the other hand, there are circumstances in which we would expect something additional to be said if something additional had happened. For example, if Paul had died by the time Luke wrote the Book of Acts, it’s surprising that no mention is made of that event. If Isaiah was written during the Exile, it’s surprising that there is no incidental information on daily life in Mesopotamia—such as we find in a truly Exilic prophet like Ezekiel. If Galatians was written before the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15), it is surprising that Paul didn’t play this trump card.


I am going to distinguish between an ad hominem argument and an ad hominem attack. In an ad hominem argument, the disputant argues from his opponent’s own assumptions and methods. You try to show that his operating premise is false, or his conclusion is invalid. Your assume your opponent’s burden of proof.

An ad hominem argument is a perfectly legitimate form of reasoning. It doesn’t prove the disputant’s position to be true, but it proves the opponent’s position to be false. And that is a necessary step in apologetics.


As distinguished from an ad hominem argument, an ad hominem attack is not about the merits of the case, but about the merits of the man.

An ad hominem attack is a special case of the genetic fallacy. The disputant attacks the character and credentials of his opponent to impeach his credibility. If he can’t find anything wrong with him, he will shift to guilt-by-association.

An ad hominem attack is often characterized by a heavy dose of invective and labeling. Indeed, it may be pure invective, as a substitute for reasoned argument.

As soon as the opponent is classified as a “fundamentalist,” “rightwing extremist,” “creationist,” there is nothing more to say—as if mere assignment to a certain social class were any sort of argument against one’s membership in said class.

There is nothing wrong with labeling. But at some point the disputant needs to make a case for why, exactly, such group-membership is invidious.

As a rule, this is a red herring. Even if the opponent were a hypocrite, his position may still be true. May well be true.

A very influential version of the ad hominem attack is the Freudian analysis of faith as wishful thinking. This has its sociological counterpart in the theories of Marx and Durkheim.

The assumption here is that if faith serves a certain function, it is reducible to a functional role, as if there’s no external referent which answers to the object of faith.

A problem with this line of argument is that it cuts both ways, for unbelief is also subject to a functional analysis. The unbeliever is suffering from a father-complex, negative transference, secular social conditioning, &c.

Having said all that, there are circumstances in which an ad hominem attack is legitimate. For example, it’s not prudent to hire a homosexual Scout master, or a philanderer to serve as your pastor, or a convicted embezzler to be a bank executive.

There are also situations in which it is not inappropriate to judge a man by the company he keeps. If a man spends his evenings and weekends at the local bathhouse, that is a pretty good indication of his sexual orientation.

At the same time, we need to distinguish between first-degree and second-degree association. If I have a brother who belongs to a street gang, that doesn’t make me a gang-banger.

The ad hominem attack can sometimes refute the argument from authority, for a man’s credentials, or lack thereof, may be relevant to his expertise, or lack thereof. At the same time, there are incompetent PhDs as well as competent autodidacts. So, generally, you have to judge a position by the quality of the supporting arguments, and not the resume of the disputant or his opponent.

An ad hominem attack is also legitimate when bad behavior is a logical consequence of a particular belief or belief-system.


The disputant appeals to his own assumptions and standards to disprove the opponent’s position, when his assumptions and standards are the very point at issue. This is the flip-side of the ad hominem argument.

For example, a materialist will “disprove” the existence of God by insisting that only empirical evidence counts for or against an existential proposition. Since God, if there is a God, is a supersensible being, he cannot be an object of sense knowledge, and cannot, therefore, be an object of knowledge at all.

But this begs the question by insisting on a particular epistemology which, in turn, prejudges what is knowable.

A quite common example of question-begging is where the disputant will make a groundless assertion instead of an argument. Rather than argue for his assertion, his bare, baseless assertion becomes a substitute for reason and evidence.


The disputant confuses the properties of one domain with another. For example, Augustine’s privative theory of evil sets up a correspondence between degrees of being and degrees of good, which conflates ethics and metaphysics.


The disputant gives a reason for why he doesn’t believe the opposing position. His opponent refutes his objection. The disputant cannot point to any flaw in his opponent’s refutation. But instead of withdrawing his original objection, the disputant simply changes the subject.


There are two kinds of circular reasoning: vicious and virtuous.

i) Vicious circularity is a special case of begging the question. Vicious circularity is where you reproduce the premise in the conclusion. Instead of showing that y follows from x because y is a subset of x, and if x is true, then y is true, you simply paraphrase your original claim, so that you’ve done nothing to advance the argument. You seem to give reason x for your belief in y, but x and y are really the same thing.

Vicious circularity is usually a bit more roundabout than this bare-bones outline. For example, this is how a Roman Catholic will often argue for his faith:

“How do you know that the Catholic Church is not an apostate church?”
“ Because the Church is indefectible.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because Christ has promised us that the gates of hell will not overcome the church.”
“Haven’t the Popes made mistakes?”
“Only when expressing a private opinion, and not when speaking ex cathedra.”
“How do you know when a Pope is speaking ex cathedra or not?”
“If he made a mistake, he was not speaking ex cathedra.”
“Is it not possible for your church to commit apostasy?”
“No, for the true church is indefectible.”
“How do you know that your church is the true church?”
“Because she has never fallen into heresy.”
“How do you know she’s never fallen into heresy?”
“Because Christ has promised us that the gates of hell will not overcome the church.”

If you think this is a parody of Catholic reasoning, just read some of my exchanges with Roman Catholics.

ii) Virtuous circularity can take two forms:
a) It can be a special case of the ad hominem argument, where, for the sake of argument, the disputant will reason from his opponent’s assumptions and standards.
b) When it takes for granted whatever truth-conditions are necessary to reason at all—truth-conditions common to disputant and opponent alike.

On a side issue, it is often said that Van Tilian apologetics is viciously circular. However, Van Tilian apologetics is circular in the sense of (ii), not (i).

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Anglican Mary

Britain, UK news from The Times and The Sunday Times - Times Online: "In the passage likely to cause most dissent, the document says the infallible dogmas of the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption — the teachings that Mary was herself conceived “without sin” and that on death she was “assumed” body and soul into Heaven — are “consonant with the teaching of the Scriptures”.

The document is not intended itself to be authoritative but to be a basis for discussion. Its authors admit openly to the hope that the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion will recognise a “common faith” concerning Mary as outlined in the paper.

This would mean that the Marian teaching of the Roman Church would come to be seen as an “authentic expression” of Christian belief by Anglicans, and vice versa."

The adversarial society

There is a common phenomenon I’ve noticed over the past few yeas. Perhaps it has always been present in like measure, yet it seems to be becoming more pervasive as the culture war has intensified.

This mindset may take its inception in the legal profession. A defendant who has guilt written all over him for some especially heinous crime is acquitted. His lawyer is asked how he can, in good conscience, defend a client who is so obviously guilty of so heinous crime. The reply is always the same: “That’s our system of justice. It’s an adversarial system.”

By this he means that it’s the role of the prosecution to make the case for the defendant’s guilt, and the role of the jury to judge the merits of the case. Hence, so the argument goes, it’s the role of the defense attorney to make the case for the defendant’s innocence.

Hence, a lawyer can defend a guilty client in all good conscience. Indeed, it’s his civic duty to do so--however guilty and however heinous the crime. The accused may confess his crime to the lawyer, but that makes no difference.

This sounds somewhat plausible, but is deeply specious.

i) The adversarial format is more than a mere formality. The prosecution is not supposed to take the opposing side for the sake of balance. Rather, the prosecution is supposed to honestly believe that the defendant is, indeed, guilty, and to have probative evidence to justify that belief.

ii) There is nothing in our Constitutional system of justice which says that a lawyer is supposed to get a guilty client off the hook. All the Constitution says is that the accused has the right of counsel (6th Amendment).

So the idea that it is a lawyer’s professional and civic duty to get a guilty client acquitted is not part of our system, handed down to us by the Founding Fathers. Neither has there ever been a national plebiscite to ratify this policy.

Rather, this is a policy made by lawyers and for lawyers. To appeal to your policy in order to defend your policy is viciously circular.

iii) There is no general obligation on the part of a lawyer to represent any client in particular.

iv) From a Christian standpoint, the law of God is only concerned with the guilt or innocent of the accused, and with rules of evidence designed to convict the guilty and acquit the innocent.

Yet another possible model for the adversarial mindset is the business world, where one seeks a competitive edge. This is particularly the case in commercial negotiations, where both sides drive a hard bargain by asking for more than they expect.

The principle here is quite simple. If I ask for more than I’m prepared to accept, that gives me a margin, so that even if I eventually settle for less that I originally demanded, I still end up getting more than if I hadn’t asked for more in the first place.

Is there anything wrong with this? Not that I can see. For this is not a question of truth and falsehood, but whatever the market will bear. In general, the seller is under no obligation to retail his goods and services, while the buyer is under no obligation to secure his goods and services. The commodity has no intrinsic worth (in the sense of a set monetary value), so a fair price is whatever the two parties agree to. There are exceptions to this principle, but that’s the norm.

But if the source of the problem begins with the legal profession, or the financial world, or some combination thereof, that is not where it ends. It has become quite pervasive in politics, academia, and the news media.

According to the adversarial mindset, I can say things I don’t believe as long as it’s in the furtherance of a cause I do believe. I don’t have to seek out the evidence. I don’t have to be true to the facts. I don’t have to honestly represent the opposing side.

I don’t even have to be honest with myself. I can advocate one policy while I’m in power, and its contrary while I’m out of power. I can have one standard for my team, and another standard for your team. A just cause (as I define it) justifies any means whatsoever.

For if I were to be honest, I would lose my competitive edge and forfeit my dickering room. The best way to get my way is to ask for more than I want, and to lie about it, since the opposing side will also ask for more than it wants, and lie about it. It’s us verses them, so the only way to get our fair share is to be unfair to our opponent, since he will be just as ungenerous to us.

Now, this dishonorable honor code is destroying the public square. For it makes professional liars of all parties concerned. They habitually say things that they themselves don’t believe for a minute, and ask for all sorts of things they don’t really want.

Everything is reduced to a game of bluff, of chicken, of who blinks first. And the danger here is that in a real world situation, the facts really do matter. If you play a game of bluff, you may go over the bluff. If you play a game of chicken, you may die in a head-on collision. Even if you strike a deal, that no longer holds because the rule of law has become another game of chicken.

The adversarial mindset is the denouement of atheism. Once you deny divine providence, then you’re really on your own in a dog-eat-dog world. Left to its own devices, secular ethics quickly degenerates into a feast of mutual cannibalism. Screw thy neighbor and do unto him before he does unto thee.

Unwilling to trust in the providence of God, they no longer trust their fellow man. So every one lies to everyone else to secure a competitive edge. But, of course, if everyone does it, the advantage is cancelled out, and the social fabric unravels without the common thread of truth to bind it into one. Everyone loses by winning at everyone else’s expense.

Welcome to humanism. Next stop: oblivion.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

To comment or not to comment... "We did have an exchange on comments/no comments, and I got to air my view that comments sections are defamation/copyright time bombs waiting to go off, and that hostiles will figure out soon enough how to post defamatory/copyrighted material on blogs they don’t like with the hope of provoking crippling lawsuits. I also got to argue that comments section hold down the growth of new blogs by giving easy access to text to folks who should be out earning their audience and thus planting new trees in the opinion journalism forest rather than just new branches to already tall trees."

Chess or poker?

My paternal grandfather was a fine poker player (as well as a fine chess player), while his wife was a fine bridge player. Poker is a classic psychological game. That’s the chief appeal of poker. In poker you play to the man.

Bridge, by contrast, is a numbers game. You play by the book. The objective is to rake in enough “tricks” to win.

Sometimes my grandfather would play bridge with my grandmother. And my grandmother would complain that he was playing bridge like poker—playing to the man.

Now, this contrast comes up in countercult ministry as well. Should we play to the man, or play by the book?

In other words, should we play by our book (the Bible) and their book—whether their interpretation of the Bible, or some rival revelation (e.g., the Koran, Book of Mormon)?

Should we approach them by comparing our rule of faith (the Bible) with their rule of faith? Should we approach them by asking if they are consistent with their own rule of faith?

Of ought we, instead, play to the man? John Morehead, for one, thinks that countercult ministries waste way too much time playing bridge when they ought to play poker. He says, for example:


The cross-cultural missionary overseas attempts to put themselves “in the shoes” of the person of the other culture and to communicate in ways that are understood from their cultural perspective, rather than a perspective more familiar to the missionary.

Western missionaries ministering overseas recognize the importance of interpersonal communication in a cross-cultural context…Overseas missionaries are careful to focus on being effective, loving communicators of an “other-centered” presentation of the gospel as Christ’s ambassadors, and not to focus on being confrontational or personally offensive.

A comparison of a cross-cultural missions approach overseas with evangelism on the “home” mission field of America is instructive, particularly when we see how different the approaches can be. In an evangelistic encounter with “cults” evangelicals are eager to defend the truth of Scripture that they feel are being distorted, and as a result, these exchanges with Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses (and others) often become heated debates over the proper interpretation of biblical texts. While sound doctrine is an important consideration, if the conversation becomes focused on debates over biblical interpretation and doctrine the result is that little effective communication of the gospel takes place. It seems that in missions contexts overseas missionaries focus on the effective cross-cultural communication of the gospel message, but in the American context, with our perceptions of a Christian America, we tend to engage in confrontational approaches that emphasize doctrinal orthodoxy.

View “cults” (or new religions) as religious or spiritual cultures (people groups). People groups can be classified in a variety of ways, but they tend to be identified by a core of common characteristics that bind them together and sets them apart from others.

Remember the importance of authentic relationships. The history of missions teaches us that the most effective evangelism takes place within the context of relationships.

"Can You Hear Me Now? Insights from Communications and Missions for New
Religions", by John W. Morehead


This calls for a number of comments:

1.Unless I’m mistaken, the last great phase of missionary expansion was the 19C. Now, how does the methodology of 19C mission compare with the methodology of Morehead? What were the methods of Taylor and Cary and Duff? Were they recontextualizing the gospel? And, if so, how? And what is the relative success rate between the two models of missiology? Given his fondness for the social sciences, he has presumably done a statistical analysis on this subject. Or has he?

To take another example—Presbyterian missionaries have made deep inroads into S. Korea. Yet the Presbyterian tradition is very bookish.

2.Again, is it a matter of historical fact that “the most effective evangelism takes place within the context of relationships”?

Is personal evangelism more effective than mass evangelism? On the face of it, it is hard to see how that can be true, for personal evangelism is a one-on-one affair, whereas mass evangelism is a one-to-many affair. How do you catch more fish—with a fishing-pole or a drag-net?

Has personal evangelism won more converts to the faith than Calvin or Knox or Whitefield or Wesley or Rowlands or Edwards or Spurgeon or Moody or Graham?

Again, with Morehead’s fondness for sociology, we would like to see the stats on that.

3.In the case of homegrown cults like Mormonism and the Watchtower, we are dealing with “spiritual cultures” which share the same indigenous culture as the rest of us. Take Mormonism. The early critics of Mormon theology did not approach this cult as social outsiders. They were exposed to all the same influences. They shared the same pair of shoes.

Indeed, traditional critics of Mormonism have always devoted a good deal of time to documenting Joseph Smith’s literary and intellectual debts to his social surroundings, e.g., the KJV, Alexander Campbell, Free Masonry, Victorian occultism, &c.

So this is not merely a case of judging Mormonism by an external standard (e.g., the Bible), but understanding it from within, beginning with contemporaries of Joseph Smith.

There is a sense in which most Mormons constitute an ethnic subculture, due to intense inbreeding. That social bond makes them very hard to penetrate. But this is just as much an impediment to Morehead’s approach as it is to the traditional approach.

The problem with comparing my feelings with your feelings, my experience with yours, is that this, of itself, offers to criterion to distinguish between the superiority of my feelings over against yours, or your experience over against mine.

In addition, one duty of an apologist is to redirect the conversation. For a major reason that an unbeliever is an unbeliever in the first place is because he is asking the wrong questions, and judging the right answers by the wrong standards.

The same could be said for those Jehovah’s Witnesses who come knocking at our door. They didn’t touch down from outer space. Most of them are fellow Americans by birth and breeding. They live where we live, go where we go, see, hear, and do what we see, hear, and do.

They are also very Bible-centered in their Scripture-twisting way, and they exemplify the “heresy-rationalist” model of apologetics in their own work.

To take a very different example, the new age movement has imported some foreign elements into its witch’s brew. For example the Beatles did a lot to popularize an ersatz version of Hinduism in the West.

But, by that same token, this is something we’ve all been exposed to through the mass media. It’s part of the pop cultural landscape. Hence, the insider/outsider dichotomy is overdrawn. You don’t have to be an initiate to have some understanding of what makes it tick.

And a countercult ministry which does cultivate a more specialized understanding of the new age movement is coming at it from the same direction as a convert to new age thinking. An unsympathetic student is no more or less of an outsider than a sympathetic student.

4.Appropos (3), we need to distinguish between the surface structure and the deep structure of the cultic mindset. Dr. Johnson once said that nature and passion never change. To put a more Christian cast on his maxim, sin and fallen nature never change.

Beneath the infinite variation of error, everyone has the same emotional makeup, the same fears and needs and longings. A cultic creed is just an outer defense mechanism. And even the variations of error are just that—variations on a few basic themes.

Breach the defensive perimeter and you can reach the real person. What you find may be ugly. If you reach in your hand, you may get bitten as often as you draw the unbeliever out into the light. That’s what happens when the unbeliever is vulnerable. But as long as you leave the defensive perimeter intact, the unbeliever is out of reach.

Bridge paves the way for poker. By and large, you must play bridge before you’re in any position to play poker.

5.I’m all for personal evangelism, but it has several limitations:

i) It is labor-intensive. You can only reach a few people at a time, over many years.

ii) There is a tension built into personal evangelism, for if you befriend an unbeliever in order to win a lost soul, you must be prepared, at some point, to risk the friendship by confronting him with the gospel.

iii) You have to deal with a cult on more than one level, and even on its own level, it may present more than one facet. What is a countercult ministry to do when, say, a Nibley or Millet or Robinson writes a book promoting Mormonism?

A book is not a person. You cannot address yourself to a book the way you address a person across the table. Yet you do need to rebut the book.

6.A controlled confrontation can be very useful. A limitation, both with books and friendship evangelism is that an unbeliever can always wiggle out without loss of face.

But in a public debate, whether in front of a live audience, or on TV, or over the Internet, the unbeliever is under pressure to respond. So you can corner him in a way you cannot do by swapping books and speaking in private.

And onlookers also benefit from this exchange. They can tell which side is being evasive or emotional.

7. The “social sciences” are obsessed with uncovering the source or root-cause of a problem, under the assumption that once you know the cause, you know the solution. You can see this all the time in the way they deal with crime. Why did the serial killer murder all those women? Why did the teenager murder his mom and dad?

The system failed him! His parents failed him!

This has turned into a cottage industry, with expert witnesses and psychiatric counseling and the whole culture of victimology.

But the fact is that, in many cases, there is no connection between the cause and the cure—assuming there is a cure. Even if the source of the problem goes back in time to childhood trauma, the criminal cannot go back in time to his childhood. That is unrepeatable. That is irreversible.

Much of the time, we don’t need to understand why people do what they do. Understanding them doesn’t cure them.

8.Morehead’s sidekick, Philip Johnson, has recommended Jn 4 as a model of how to do evangelism.

Very well, then. Let’s briefly look at this example.

i) Does Jesus play poker or bridge with the woman at the well? He does both. For starters, he brings up he sex life. That’s poker.

Now, this opening gambit is certainly very relational and “other-centered.” He is beginning with where she lives, as the saying goes.

I wonder how often Johnson or Morehead has asked about the sex life of the cult-member he was witnessing to. Seems to me that this could be construed as rather confrontational or personally offensive.

Then they jump into a debate over the very divisive and controversial issue of which side was right in the conflict between Jews and Samaritans. Notice the emphasis on doctrinal orthodoxy. This would be a classic example of the “heresy-rationalist” model in Johnson’s classification scheme. Or bridge, as I put it.

To say that bad blood existed between the two groups on this particular issue would be an understatement. The Jews regarded the Samaritans as a treasonous bunch of racial and theological half-breeds. So the issue, while theological, was also intensely and bitterly personal.

Yet that doesn’t prevent Jesus from telling the woman that “You worship what you don’t know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews…Those that worship the Father do so in spirit and in truth” (Jn 4:22,24).

Can’t get much more confrontational than that! If Jesus had gone out of his way to be offensive, he could scarcely have said anything more off-putting. And yet his mission to the Samaritans was highly successful (39-42).

Monday, May 16, 2005

Rome's merry-go round

I said:
<< Indeed, you have now drawn the circle so narrowly that it is unclear that any book by a lay apologist would “bear on the formal education of the faithful, in the context of parish life (eg, textbooks)” or “catechesis.”>>

Jason said:
<< Correct, they don't. Unless someone is a Bishop, nothing they write represents the Church in a formal sense. Apologists speak for themselves (they speak for the Church, just not in any formal capacity). >>

I said:
<< So instead of saying that such books are ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur, you now seem to be saying that such book are not ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur. Which is it? >>

Jason said:
<< I stand by what I said. Most apologists submit their books for an imprimatur. Why a specific books doesn't have one, I can't say. For a book such as you mentioned (ie, Keating's), I can guarantee that it would meet with the approval of a Bishop for an imprimatur, if eligible. >>

This has not even the appearance of consistency. What “hard evidence” does Jason offer that “most apologists submit their books for an imprimatur”? Presumably, the only hard evidence would be the fact that their books have, indeed, received the imprimatur.

Yet he has already defined most-all books by a lay apologist as ineligible for the imprimatur inasmuch as their subject-matter fails to bear on the formal education of the faithful, i.e. catechesis. So, by his own criterion, most all of their books could not receive the imprimatur even if they were submitted for such approval.

<< There are plenty of Bishops who have shown their informal support for an organization like Catholic Answers. They have no need to be distrustful of their Bishop. They have proven to be friends. >>

Why informal support? Why not formal support? Because, presumably, they don’t wish to issue a blank check to such an organization for fear it might say something they’d disapprove of.

<< Well, I think herein lies the problem. You are analyzing Catholics in relation to the Catholic Church. To do so, you must employ the standards of Catholic theology, not loose personal definitions from an Evangelical perspective. >>

Actually, I went on to examine Catholic usage as well.
<< As far as someone's loyalty to the Catholic Church goes, we have nothing to consider except their outward conformity. >>

Really, questions of intent are irrelevant to Catholic moral theology and the sincerity of religious assent, i.e, “loyal submission of will and intellect”?

<< It's possible that all these Catholic apologists secretly hate the Catholic Church and its doctrine. >>

This is, of course, a straw man argument. The question is not whether Hahn, Armstrong and other suchlike secretly hate the RCC. Rather, the question is whether they suffer from divided intellectual commitments which logically compromise their allegiance. This is a common phenomenon, both in theology and ideology.

<< Again, I don't see how this bears on your charge of schism. The passage you cited is dealing with matters of doctrine. Most well-known Catholic apologists try their best to conform to Catholic doctrine. >>

I don’t doubt that they are doing their level best. But the dilemma is what to do when you’ve been dealt a losing hand? If the magisterium is inconsistent, then you can only be loyal to the magisterium on pain of inconsistency. You make the best of a bad deal, but this entails a certain about of arbitrary selectivity and special-pleading to keep up appearances.

Again, this is a not uncommon phenomenon. Consider, for example, the quandary of the loyal Mormon who must defend the “translation” of the Book of Abraham by Joseph Smith? A “translation” supposedly attested by Charles Anthon? And this is the same sort of gimmickry and ad hocery we see when a Catholic apologist tries to gloss former magisterial statements consistent with Vatican II and the like.

<< The topic of Protestants you raise is a completely different issue, which I would rather not go into here. Just to say that Trent and Vatican II are addressing two completely different historical situations. >>

A completely different issue? Jason had accused me, a little earlier, of using “loose personal definitions from an Evangelical perspective.”

Now what I had done was to compare Trent and Vatican II on the character of schism. In Trent, a Protestant is schismatic. But in Vatican II, he is held to be in some lesser, but real sense in union and communion with the true church. Were we to apply that same standard to a Catholic apologist who is to the right of the magisterium, he could be schismatic in some respects, yet united to Rome in other respects.

If, in fact, you consider the extent to which the Catholic church has vastly broadened its self-definition as, of itself, the sacrament of humanity, rather than the dispenser of the sacraments, then the distinction between Catholic, schismatic, heretic, Jew, Muslim, pagan, an atheist is one of degree, not of kind:

“As sacrament, the Church is Christ's instrument. "She is taken up by him also as the instrument for the salvation of all," "the universal sacrament of salvation," by which Christ is "at once manifesting and actualizing the mystery of God's love for men." The Church "is the visible plan of God's love for humanity," because God desires "that the whole human race may become one People of God, form one Body of Christ, and be built up into one temple of the Holy Spirit (CCC 776)."

<< Just to say that Trent and Vatican II are addressing two completely different historical situations. >>

This statement is deceptively simple:

1.Trent consists of theological propositions setting forth Catholic dogma, on the one hand, while anathematizing the positions it attributes to the Protestants, on the other.

Now, to the extent that modern-day Protestants continue to adhere to some of those propositions, how do they escape the anathemas? Yes, the historical situations have altered, but the theological propositions have not. A Calvinist or a confessional Lutheran can certainly find some of his theology in the Tridentine anathemas.

2. The problem with historical relativism is it applies to the future as well as the past. The historical situation of Vatican II—framed in the ferment of the Sixties--is very different from historical situation of a Catholic living in 2005—not to mention a Catholic living in 2050, or 2105.

If theological propositions don’t mean what they meant at the time they were promulgated, then your appeal to Vatican II or the Catechism has no more force than my appeal to Vatican I or Trent or Florence or Lateran IV or even Nicaea.

<< I was referring to published apologists. As I said, I don't even think internet writings are proper objects of an imprimatur. To repeat again, a book may not have an imprimatur for many reasons, whether it's not eligible to one to the author chose not to petition for one. Either way, most apologists DO choose to petition one. It would be upon you to demonstrate that a lack of an imprimatur indicates a nefarious plot by an apologist to write in contradiction to the Magisterium. >>

1.The business of the “nefarious plot” is just a lot of silly hyperbole.

2.Notice how Jason is redefining the burden of proof into an argument from silence. At the risk of stating the obvious, the only hard evidence that an apologist has applied for the imprimatur is if he has received the imprimatur. Is there any other record in the public domain save for the imprimatur itself?

I said:
<< Can you point me to a cumulative index of the “authentic” magisterium? Or does a Catholic have to sift through all the raw data himself and size up their relative authority. >>

Jason said:
<< Yes, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. >>

No, this will not rise to the challenge.

1.To my knowledge (correct me if I’m wrong), the Catechism is an expression of the ordinary, and not the extraordinary magisterium. It is not an ex cathedra pronouncement from the Pope. It is not the text of an ecumenical council.

2.And even if, for the sake of argument, it were an expression of the extraordinary magisterium, one could apply to the Catechism the same historical solvents which, say, Shawn McElhinney liberally applies to Florence, viz.
“This does not mean that the text of the Catechism is either verbally inspired or that it necessarily states a teaching in the best possible way.”
“The Catechism was specifically directed to [fill in the blank].” “There is also the fact that the Catechism itself, while definitive, is not formally so. In that sense the exposition element of the teaching would not necessarily fall under the mantle of infallible teaching.”

I said:
<< If so, he is having to authenticate the church’s teaching rather than having the church authenticate his own teaching—in which case we’re back to the right of private judgment. >>

Jason said:
<< Yes, the Church doesn't micromanage her children's lives. She trusts them to learn the faith as best they can and communicate it. When they want to do so in a formal capacity, however, the Church tries to assure their suitability. >>

“As best they can”? “The Church doesn’t micromanage” their lives?

How does this concessive statement improve on sola Scriptura and the right of private judgment under the watchful providence of God?

<< I don't see any hard evidence that they, in fact, are. It would have to be demonastrated with hard evidence that they consistenly spurn the magisterium of the Church. If, for example, you could show me writings from Dave Armstrong that say, upon the release of a new encyclical, "this encyclical is nonsense. I'm not submitting to it", you might have a case. >>

Actually, I don’t have to demonstrate a thing. For, by Jason’s stated standard, the evidence that Armstrong is not schismatic is the fact that most Catholic apologists, himself included, submit their stuff to the local bishop for the imprimatur. Hence, the only necessary evidence that Armstrong is a schismatic would be the absence of the imprimatur.

That is where Jason originally set the bar. Now, however, he is backtracking and attempting to raise the bar.

<< You have basically taken non-magisterial celebrities (eg, Ray Brown) and decided that they speak for Catholicism, and so Catholics who don't like them are spurning the Magisterium. >>

Yes, that’s what Roman Catholics keep telling me. What they fail to see is that such a disclaimer is illogical, and repeating an illogical disclaimer ad nauseum does nothing to render it any less illogical.

If Ray Brown’s writings received the imprimatur (which they did), if he was twice appointed to the PBC by two different Popes, and if he was never removed from that post, then, yes, to any mind that does not already have a dog in the fight, then the promotion of a subordinate does imply the approval of his superiors.

To palter with technical distinctions over the non-magisterial status of the PBC and its members, even when its members are appointed by the magisterium, publish under the imprimatur, and even have a forward to one of their work’s by the Prefect, is to indulge in plausible deniability.

Such an insulating device exists for one purpose and one purpose only, the very purpose to which Jason and others put it, which is to distance the superior from the conduct of his subordinate, so that he cannot be held responsible for the conduct of his subordinate—even if he knows perfectly well what his subordinate is saying and doing, and was put in place by his superior to say and do what he does.

So a Catholic apologist can use Ray Brown as a handy fall-guy. The very reason which a Catholic apologist urges in defense of this distinction is the very reason which discredits it in the eyes of someone who does not have a vested interested in the reputation of Rome.

But suppose we waive all that, for we have larger fish to fry. It isn’t just Ray Brown or Joseph Fitzmyer. From what I can tell, Brown’s view of Scripture is not essentially different from the published views of the late Pontiff or the published views of his newly-chosen successor.

“Evangelical” converts to Rome may be in nominal submission to the magisterium, but to be consistent with an inconsistent system is to be a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Schism or Romanism?

Jason has responded to my reply.

<< But unless his [Jaki’s] book was intended for Catechesis, there is no obligation to submit it for an imprimatur. >>

That may well be true, but you are changing the subject. What you originally said, and what I was responding to, was the following:

<< Perhaps you should take a look at the first page of Scott Hahn's (and most other Catholic apologist's) books. They are usually submitted to the local Bishop for an imprimatur (an official review and declaration of its suitability insofar as Catholic doctrine goes). >>

Whether they are “usually” submitted to the local bishop, and whether there is an “obligation” to do so are two very different things.

Indeed, you have now drawn the circle so narrowly that it is unclear that any book by a lay apologist would “bear on the formal education of the faithful, in the context of parish life (eg, textbooks)” or “catechesis.”

So instead of saying that such books are ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur, you now seem to be saying that such book are not ordinarily submitted to the local bishop for the imprimatur. Which is it?

<< It seems you're throwing out the term "schismatic" in a sense which you define, rather than the sense it is given in Catholic theology. >>

Three comments:

1.I am, indeed, using “schism” in an informal sense. That is already clear from how I’ve qualified my own usage: as when I speak of an “inner” schism, not to mention my lengthier distinction: “There’s quite a difference between a group which pays lip-service to the magisterium while going its own way, and one that publicly defies the magisterium. My allegation is that Armstrong is schismatic in the first sense, not the second.”

So all your criticism amounts to is that I’m not using the word the way you do. Granted. That does not affect my allegation.

2. I’d add that even in Catholic moral theology, intentions make a difference. For example, wrong intentions can invalidate a sacramental action. So even if outward conformity is preserved, impediments may remain.

Vatican II says the following:
“This loyal submission of the will and intellect must be given, in a special way, to the authentic teaching authority of the Roman Pontiff, even when he does not speak ex cathedra in such wise, indeed, that his supreme teaching authority be acknowledge with respect, an d sincere assent be given to decisions made by him, conformably with his manifest mind and intention…” (Lumen Gentium 25).

“Loyal submission of will and intellect,” “sincere assent.”

3. It isn’t clear to me, even on your own terms, that “schism” has a “very precise meaning.”

For example, Ralph McInery quotes, with evident approval, the statement of Brent Bozell that “anyone who refuses submission to an authoritative teaching by the supreme pontiff on Faith and morals is a schismatic”; “If they will not do this, they should cease pretending to represent the Catholic Church. Otherwise, they will be personally responsible for widening the schism and increasing the scandal,” What Went Wrong with Vatican II (Sophia 1998), 80.

Notice that he is not talking about people who have either been excommunicated (passive schism), or formally broken ties with Rome (active schism). They are merely insubordinate.

To take another example, when Trent anathematized the Protestants, it thereby branded them as schismatics. Yet Vatican II speaks of Protestants who, although they lack the “fullness of unity,” yet are capable of being in “communion with Christ” (Unitatis redintegratio 22).

So the usage and concept of schism in Catholic parlance doesn’t seem to be as cut-and-dried as you make it out to be.

<< Armstrong's work is not created for catechesis in his parish. It is a private initiative. He has no obligation to submit it to a Bishop for an imprimatur. If he did (and I don't think writings on the Internet would even be eligible) he would receive an imprimatur without a problem. >>

Now you’re moving the goal-post. Remember what you said before? “Perhaps you should take a look at the first page of Scott Hahn's (and most other Catholic apologist's) books. They are usually submitted to the local Bishop for an imprimatur…”

Now you’ve gone from “most other Catholic apologists submit it to the local bishop” to “he has no obligation to submit it to the local bishop…and writings on the Internet wouldn’t even be eligible.”

<< The PBC has no magisterial authority, and so merely criticizing something it wrote would be no problem. Ratzinger, as a Cardina, certainly had no magisterial authority in his forward. >>

<< Your charges of quasi-schism have to be demonstrated with hard evidence. Theological disagreements with people in high places doesn't qualify for schism. The authentic magisterium of the Church is not to be confused with personal opinions. >>

The problem here is what would ever count as “hard” evidence for the “authentic” voice of the magisterium. That has been a problem all along.

Can you point me to a cumulative index of the “authentic” magisterium? Or does a Catholic have to sift through all the raw data himself and size up their relative authority?

If so, he is having to authenticate the church’s teaching rather than having the church authenticate his own teaching—in which case we’re back to the right of private judgment.

We Evangelicals have a cumulative index. It’s called the Bible. The cut-off point was 2000 years ago. We don’t have to distinguish between fallible and infallible, prudential and magisterial.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Is the church of Rome a part of the visible church?

Those within the Reformed community who defend the Christian status of the Catholic Church sometimes appeal to the article by Charles Hodge: “Is the Church of Rome a Part of the Visible Church?”

But this appeal calls for a number of comments:

1.Now there is no doubt that Charles Hodge is a representative spokesman for Reformed theology. At the same time, the fact that such Southern Presbyterian theologians as Thornwell and Girardeau took issue with his position goes to show that Hodge’s view doesn’t represent the official view. It is just the private opinion of a Reformed theologian. We should give his arguments a respectful hearing. But the mere fact that Charles Hodge took this position doesn’t elevate it to creedal status in Reformed theology.

2.What does enjoy creedal status in Old School Presbyterian theology generally, and the Old Princeton theology in particular, to which Hodge himself was a sworn adherent and exponent, is the following statement:

“There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the Pope of Rome in any sense be head thereof; but is that Antichrist, that man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself in the Church against Christ, and all that is called God” (WCF 25:6).

For purposes of argument, it matters not whether you agree with the Confession on this point. You may disagree.

But if you’re appealing to the authority of Reformed tradition in the person of Charles Hodge, then there is a higher Reformed authority than Charles Hodge, and that is the Westminster Confession. And the version to which he was sworn included this article.

The Westminster Confession was the doctrinal standard for church officers and seminary professors. If push comes to shove, Westminster trumps Hodge.

According, then, to the Westminster Confession, the Pope is the Antichrist. If, for the sake of argument, you go along with this equation, and those who stake their claim on Reformed tradition must, for the sake of argument, go along with that equation, then what does this entail for the Church of Rome?

If you identify the papacy with the Antichrist, then you must say that the Church of Rome is the church of the Antichrist. And if the Church of Rome is headed by the Antichrist, then how can you also say that the Church of Rome is a part of the visible church headed by Christ?

3.There are some other problems with Hodge’s argument. On the one hand, he says that “we must distinguish between what is essential to the gospel, and what is essential for a particular individual to believe. The former is fixed, the other is a variable quantity.”

And this is a valid distinction. But, on the other hand, he says that a church is “an organized society professing the true religion, united for the purpose of worship and discipline, and subject to the same form of government and to some common tribunal.”

The problem here is that Hodge is equivocating between the visible and invisible church—between the Christian identity of an individual and the Christian identity of an institution. To define the church in social terms as a visible institution is to define it in corporate rather than individual terms.

Hodge tries to square this circle by saying the following: “The true, or invisible church consists of true believers; the visible church, of a society of such professors, united for church purposes and separated from other societies by subjection to some one tribunal…We do not see how consistently with the evangelical system of doctrine, and especially with the great doctrine that salvation is by faith, we can avoid the conclusion that all true believers are in the true church, and all professing believers are in the visible church.”

Now, the question at issue is not whether a member of the invisible church is ordinarily a member of the visible church. The question, rather, is whether membership in the invisible church necessarily entails membership in the visible church. And the answer should obviously be in the negative.

For there is the not uncommon case of the underground church. At an individual level, there are circumstances under which a convert is not a member of the covenant community (2 Kg 5:18-19). At a corporate level, during time of exile (e.g. Daniel), or national apostasy (e.g. 1 Kg 19), and official persecution (e.g., Revelation), public worship, discipline, and governance is all but impossible.

4.Hodge also compares the apostate church of Rome with apostate Israel. But this comparison begs the question. Every conservative evangelical will admit that the old covenant community was a direct divine institution, and that it was preserved for the duration of the old covenant itself. But to transfer that status to the Church of Rome assumes the very point at issue.

5.But suppose, for the sake of argument, that we grant Hodge’s position. Say he was right? What then?

This is the operating assumption of his position:
“That Romanists as a society profess the true religion, meaning thereby the essential doctrines of the gospel, those doctrines which if truly believed will save the soul, is, as we think, plain. 1. Because they believe the Scriptures to be the word of God. 2. They direct that the Scriptures should be understood and received as they were understood by the Christian Fathers. 3. They receive the three general creeds of the church, the Apostle's, the Nicene, and the Athanasian, or as these are summed up in the creed of Pius V.”

The problem is that Hodge wrote that back in 1846. This was before Vatican I. Before Vatican II. Before the Immaculate Conception. Before the Assumption of Mary.

The question, then, is whether the modern magisterium adheres to these criteria in the same sense as it did in the antebellum era, when Hodge first wrote these words. And as I’ve argued elsewhere, it does not.

Iatray Ogblay

For those Reformed Catholics whose command of idiomatic English may be a mite rusty do to regular attendance at Latin Mass, I have prepared a translation in my best Ciceronian Pig-Latin of my most recent reply to Owen so that our separated Reformed Catholic brethren will have the benefit of a Latin-English edition to guide them through English as a second language:

Aulpay Owenway ashay ustjay ostedpay “Omesay Oughtsthay onway


Afterway avinghay identifiedway imselfhay asway away “
onvincedcay Esbyterianpray” --eepkay ouryay ingersfay ossedcray
--ehay oesgay onway otay explainway atwhay ehay ouldway ebay
ereway ehay otnay away Esbyterianpray. Away Aptistbay isway
atway ethay eryvay ottombay ofway ishay adderlay, otway ungsray
elowbay Omanray Atholicismcay.

Oneway esitateshay otay eculatespay onway ichwhay ehay ouldway
optway orfay ereway ehay orcedfay otay oosechay etweenbay ethay
Aptistbay andway ethay Ormonmay aithfay. Ivengay ishay ighhay
urchchay ympathiessay, ivengay atthay Ormonmay ecclesiologyway
isway arfay oremay Atholiccay anthay Aptisticbay, andway ivengay
atthay, ybay ishay ownway ightslay, away Ormonmay ancay ebay
away uetray elieverbay inway Esusjay Istchray, ethay ospectspray
areway esslay anthay omisingpray.

Eforebay oceedingpray urtherfay, ermitpay emay otay aylay ymay
ownway ardscay onway ethay abletay. Istoricallyhay, away
Alvinistcay ouldcay ebay away Aptistbay, Anglicanway,
Esbyterianpray, orway Elshway Ethodistmay. Andway, eakingspay
orfay yselfmay, Iway inkthay atthay eachway ofway esethay ancay
ebay away alidvay ehiclevay ofway ethay Eformedray aditiontray.
Etlay emay alsoway aysay atthay althoughway Iway amway otnay,
andway ouldway evernay bay eway oneway, Iway oftenway
attendedway away Utheranlay urchchay (ELSWAY) ecausebay Iway
enjoyedway ethay expositoryway eachingpray andway ethay
aditionaltray ylestay ofway orshipway.

Owenway enthay offersway away otway-aragraphpay ebuttalray ofway
Aptistbay ecclesiologyway andway acramentologysay. Iway ustmay
aysay atthay Iway onday’tay eesay ethay ointpay ofway isthay
exerciseway. Owenway itescay away ewfay ellway-ornway
ooftextspray orfay ishay ositionpay.

Iway onway’tay aketay imetay otay ommentcay onway etherwhay
esethay areway otay ethay ointpay orway otnay. Atherray, Iway’
llay ustjay otenay atthay ourway Aptistbay ethrenbray,
includingway ethay Eformedray Aptistsbay, areway onlyway ootay
amiliarfay ithway esethay ersesvay, andway avehay epeatedlyray
onstruedcay emthay inway away annermay onsistentcay ithway
Aptistbay ecclesiologyway andway acramentologysay.

Osay orfay Owenway otay osstay esethay offway, asway ifway
othingnay adhay everway eenbay aidsay ybay ethay opposingway
idesay inway ayway ofway away ountercay-interpretationway, isway
otnay away erioussay argumentway. Osay owhay isway ethay
audienceway orfay isthay upposedsay otay ebay? Orfay osethay
owhay alreadyway agreeway ithway Owenway, andway onday’tay
arecay owhay oorpay ethay easonsray areway?

Iway’day alsoway ikelay otay ommentcay onway oneway atementstay
inway articularpay: “Otay ejectray infantway aptismbay isway
otay utcay oneselfway offway omfray ethay istorichay Atholiccay
Urchchay–omethingsay ichwhay Eformersray ikelay Inglizway,
Ullingerbay, Ucerbay, Alvincay andway Utherlay implysay ereway
otnay illingway otay oday. Eythay awsay eirthay ootsray inway
ethay Atholiccay Urchchay ofway ethay ecedingpray enturiescay,
otnay inway omesay esotericway emnantray ofway elieversbay
osewhay ineagelay ouldcay ebay arrowlynay acedtray ackwardsbay
inway imetay otay ethay Ewnay Estamenttay.”

Ownay, evenway ifway ouyay upportsay infantway aptismbay, isthay
isway away eciousspay argumentway orfay infantway aptismbay.
Ethay eryvay actfay atthay ethay Otestantpray Eformersray
okebray ithway Omeray entailsway away easuremay ofway
iscontinuityday ithway ethay astpay. Away Aptistbay isway onay
oremay orway esslay utcay offway omfray istorichay
Istianitychray anthay away Utheranlay orway away Esbyterianpray
. Orfay atthay attermay, Enttray ashay eryvay ittlelay useway
orfay ethay Augustinianway aditiontray—especiallyway ethay
artspay ofway ostmay useway otay Alvincay.

Itway ouldshay alsoway ebay unnecessaryway otay ointpay outway
atthay Alvincay’say argumentway orfay infantway aptismbay isway
itequay ifferentday omfray Utherlay’say. Inway additionway,
ifferentday Esbyterianspray ivegay ifferentday easonsray orfay
infantway aptismbay.

Ownay, enwhay ifferentday aedobaptistspay offerway ifferentday
andway, indeedway, utuallymay exclusiveway argumentsway orfay
infantway aptismbay, isway itway entirelyway onesthay otay utpay
ethay Aptistsbay onway oneway endway ofway ethay alescay,
andway allway ethay aedobaptistspay onway ethay otherway endway
? Isnway’tay Owenway, inway effectway, eepingkay ishay umbthay
irmlyfay essedpray ownday onway ishay endway ofway ethay alescay
—andway enthay exclaimingway atthay ethay Aptistbay ositionpay
ashay eenbay ulyday eighedway andway oundfay antingway?

Ethay eadingray asway osay unbalancedway ecausebay ishay
electionsay iteriacray ereway osay unbalancedway—ountingcay
anymay asway oughthay eythay ereway oneway. Ethay onlyway
ingthay isthay ovespray isway atthay ifway ouyay ilttay ethay
alesscay inway ouryay avorfay, ouyay etgay away eadingray
avorablefay otay ouryay ositionpay.

Andway incesay ommuniocay anctorumsay oesnday’tay ivegay ethay
opposingway idesay away airfay opportunityway otay espondray,
Iway appyhay otay inviteway ourway Aptistbay ethrenbray, andway
especiallyway Eformedray Aptistsbay, otay ommentcay erehay onway
Owenway’say eaksnay-andway-etreatray iecepay.