Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sharia in Dearborn, MI 2010

Please pray for some of our beloved apologists over at Answering Muslims who got to spend the night in jail after merely attending the 2010 Dearborn Arab Festival in Dearborn, Michigan. This festival is open to the public. Please read that last sentence again. You can see what happened to some of them at the same festival in 2009 after they attempted to have a discussion with a Muslim representative regarding an erroneous pamphlet at an "Ask a Muslim" table!

I am all for the original understanding of tolerance; i.e., that we can strongly disagree with one another yet live in the same community in harmony. However, what I linked above is a fine example of the spiritual deception that America is experiencing in the name of religious pluralism and political correctness. I see it on the campuses all the time and I believe it is a grievous symptom of the present state of Western culture. Most people I talk to are so brainwashed by political correctness and religious pluralism that they have mud for brains when it comes to intelligently discussing the subject of Islam. The fact that Americans can allow for nonsense like this to take root in their communities only 9 years after jihadists attacked one of our major metropolitan cities is evidence of God's wrath (Romans 1:25). In other words, we are just plain stupid to the truth because we want to be and God is giving us what we want.

God have mercy on us.

For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12

Friday, June 18, 2010

Burning Straw Men

John Loftus said,

My claim is that in order to maintain and defend Christianity the Christian must resort to offering possible scenarios at almost every turn. My claim is that the more they are forced to resort to these possible scenarios then the less likely their background knowledge is true which forms the backdrop to legitimately use these possible scenarios in the first place.

Of course this is false since the majority of arguments for Christianity are not based on possibility. However, Christians do make this move when atheists claim that there is a logical contradiction within Christianity, or that it is impossible that such and such Christian doctrine is true, or that this or that could not have happened, etc. It's really sad that Loftus is unable to draw the finer conceptual distinctions needed to be a top-notch atheologian.

Rare or well-done?

William Watson Birch said...

Recently, I've had good dialogue with Peter Pike, from Triablogue. I've actually enjoyed them; as well as with Patrick Chan over at Triablogue. The only one who seems to be unreasonable is Steve Hays. Though I admit that the last time I engaged him on that site, he wasn't ready to burn me at the stake, haha, which was refreshing.

There’s no doubt that I’m outclassed by Peter and Patrick–not to mention my other team members. I’m a canoe to their superyacht.

However, as a point of clarification, the reason I’m reluctant to burn a theological opponent at the stake is due to certain inherent limitations in that particular procedure. It’s one of those things that doesn’t have quite the same effect the second time round. You see, once your opponent is crispy on the outside, the cooking process is pretty irreversible. It loses that j'ne sais quoi with every repeat performance. So I tend to keep that option in reserve, for my climactic finale.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cheatin' Arminians

Steven Nemes has been debating some Arminians over at Classical Arminianism. To some extent it’s a repeat performance of what happened at Arminian Perspectives. When the Arminians lose the argument, they either retreat into perfunctory prooftexting, or resort to special pleading, viz. God’s knowledge of future contingents is a “brute fact.”

So, for instance, one ploy is to quote Bible verses which indicate God’s foreknowledge or counterfactual knowledge. Then claim that Nemes’ objections are unscriptural. But this is a smoke screen.

1.To begin with, Billy Birch didn’t limit himself to prooftexting in his original post. He quoted Boethius. But Boethius was a philosophical theologian.

It’s duplicitous to quote the arguments of a philosophical theologian, then when those arguments can’t survive rational scrutiny, retreat into Scripture and accuse your opponent of being too rationalistic.

Nemes was simply answering Birch on his own terms. Birch chose to frame the issue in partly philosophical terms.

2.Likewise, quoting what the Bible teaches about God’s foreknowledge or counterfactual knowledge is a red herring. Why? Because the question at issue is not whether God can be said to have foreknowledge/counterfactual knowledge on Biblical grounds, but whether God can be said to have foreknowledge/counterfactual knowledge on Arminian grounds.

Put another way, the question is not whether God can know the future (or hypotheticals), but whether God can know the future (or hypotheticals) given the Arminian’s philosophical precommitment to libertarian action theory.

Conversely, if Arminians say we should eschew philosophical objections to Arminian theology, then they forfeit the right to raise philosophical objections to Reformed theology, viz. moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism.

3.Another problem is that Arminians like Thibo, Winters, and Birch simply pay lipservice to Scripture. They rarely make a bona fide effort to exegete their prooftexts.

i) Take Winter’s repeated appeal to Jer 7:31. Needless to say, that’s a standard prooftext for open theism, not Arminian theism!

Or take Billy’s mishandling of Scripture:

ii) The Reformed interpretation of Rom 8:29 is not redundant. It begins with a programmatic statement in which the following redemptive blessings apply to all and only those whom God has chosen beforehand (where proginosko translates the Hebraic idiom for choosing, plus the temporal prefix).

Paul then states the goal of predestination. They are chosen to what end?

That's not redundant. Rather, it states both the origin of their blessings (divine choice) and the effect of divine choice (their subsequent blessings). God chose them, and, what is more, he chose them to enjoy the following benefits.

iii. 1 Sam 23:12 is beside the point:

a) Counterfactual knowledge is knowledge of what would occur, not what will occur. Counterfactual knowledge is not equivalent to foreknowledge (e.g. knowledge of the future).

b) Calvinism doesn't deny God's counterfactual knowledge. The question is what grounds his counterfactual knowledge.

iv. I'd like to see Billy cite a major commentary on Exod 3:14 which supports his philosophical gloss.

So Arminians cheat on philosophical theology, and they also cheat on exegetical theology.

Where Do Sheep Get Fed?

I am going to post here something I posted to Chuck Colson's "Speak Out with Chuck" page, because it's been on my mind for a while and I think it's applicable to a wider audience:

Mr. Colson,

I believe that your ministry is vital, just as many parachurch organizations are vital today (in the interests of disclosure, I do work for a parachurch organization myself). However, in the ultimate sense, I wish that you (and I) didn't have to be here. It would be great if the church was doing her job, thus making us irrelevant.

Sadly, most modern churches have become seeker-centered places for Christians to starve to death. Under the guise of evangelism, the church has watered down everything to the point that it is almost impossible to be spiritually fed. The Biblical mandate of the church is to feed the sheep. If the church becomes a mission field, where is the believer to go to get fed? And if he is not fed, then he is tossed by every wind, having no root.

If you want to become depressed, go to the average church in the average town and ask the average Christian, "Suppose I have three minutes left to live. What must I do to be saved?" Then watch the deer-in-the-headlights glaze come over their eyes, or the sputtering of anti-Biblical heresy.

We don't teach the flock how to be sheep, and then are surprised that they act like goats.

Yet God always has His remnant. He is faithful, and He brings up people such as yourself. So stay strong and be encouraged. The church in the West may be imploding, but A) it's not impossible to change course and B) the church in other parts of the world is strengthening even now. When we can get the Western church to recover the Gospel and to take her job at training the sheep seriously enough that Prison Fellowship and other parachurch organizations are put out of business, then we will be a healthy church once more. If God brought about the Great Awakening, He can do it again.
Here on Triablogue, I would like to emphasize that the Biblical role of the church is not to evangelize the lost. It is to train up disciples of Christ who can then go out and evangelize the lost. Any church that expects unbelievers to show up to hear the Gospel is already a deluded church. Sure, a handful do show up from time to time--but they're usually the handful who thinks they are saved when they are not. It is precisely for that reason that they need to hear what true Christianity is.

A church that never preached a sermon with an altar call, but who instead equipped believers with the true power of Christ, would have a greater impact and "save more souls" than a thousand of our "model" churches today.

Additionally, I'd also like to take a moment to thank Dusman for what he does with his church. While I haven't had the opportunity to visit his church (it's a bit of a commute), I can tell from many of the videos that I've watched of him, as well as the posts he's done here, that those in his church are getting well-fed spiritually.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Does Two Kingdoms Lead to or Entail This?

Recently, Two Kingdomer Steve Zrimec made what I take to be an outlandish comment. Now, I'm more congenial to Two Kingdom theory than my co-bloggers, as far as I know. But if Zrimec's statement is a proposition of or an entailment of two Kingdom theology, then count me out. I'd appreciate if a Two Kingdomer could affirm or deny that one must affirm what Steve Zrimec says in order to be 2Ker. Here's what he said:

I think this might turn on the distinction between the moral and political. Believers are personally obligated to that which is moral in faith and practice. But that doesn’t mean they are obligated to a political outlook or conclusion. So, Christian Jane mayn’t herself have an abortion, but she may vote or even make legislation contrary to this. As someone opposed both morally and politically to abortion, I’ll certainly grant that there is something obviously wrong with the sort of logic that opposes abortion morally but protects it politically (paging John Kerry). But the personal obligation a believer has is moral, not political or logical.

i) What is this "distinction" between the moral and the political? What is meant by these crucial terms? Considering that people vote and think according to political philosophies (whether they are good philosophies or well-worked-out ones is not guaranteed), it is interesting to note what one respected political philosopher says: "What is distinctive about political philosophy, however, is its prescriptive or evaluative concern with justifications, values, ideals, rights, obligations--in short, its concern with how political societies should be, how political policies and institutions can be justified, how we and our political office holders ought to behave in our public lives. . . .Political philosophy can thus be aptly characterized as a branch or an application of moral philosophy" (Simmons, Political Philosophy, Oxford, 2, emphasis original).

ii) In response to the claim that it is a sin to have an abortion (because it is murder?) but not to vote for other people to legally have one, this seems confused. May she drive her friend to the clinic and pay for the abortion? If so, may she pay for a hit man to kill her parents so long as she doesn't pull the trigger?

iia) Is not the 2K out of WSCAL "confessionalist?" Do not the Westminster Catechisms define what a violation of the 6th commandment looks like, to wit:

Q. 136. What are the sins forbidden in the sixth commandment?
A. The sins forbidden in the sixth commandment are, all taking away the life of ourselves, or of others, except in case of public justice, lawful war, or necessary defense; the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life; sinful anger, hatred, envy, desire of revenge; all excessive passions, distracting cares; immoderate use of meat, drink, labor, and recreations; provoking words, oppression, quarreling, striking, wounding, and whatsoever else tends to the destruction of the life of any.

How can the 2Ker claim voting to make or keep legal the murder of children is not a sin??? Is their talk of "Confessionalism" mere lip service? Since I don't believe that it is, here's an argument from the Catechism:

[1] If you violate the sixth commandment, then you have sinned.

[2] Anything that tends to the destruction of the life of any human is a violation of the 6th commandment.

[3] Voting to make or keep legal the murder of children by abortion tends to the destruction of human life.

[4] Voting to make or keep legal the murder of children by abortion is a violation of the 6th commandment.

[5] Therefore, voting to make or keep legal the murder of children by abortion is a sin.

Now the 2Ker needs to deny the validity of this argument or the truth of one of the premises. If they can do neither, the conclusion follows of necessity.

iib) One way to see if a position is logically valid is to use the same form of reasoning and simply switch out some terms. Suppose there is an island with 20 Christians on it and 20 non-Christians. 19 of the non-Christians are taken in by an argument for the criteria of personhood that has as a troublesome consequence that one of the non-Christians does not meet the criteria. So they decide to kill this guy, call him Bob. So, they put it to a vote. 19 non-Christians vote to kill, 19 Christians vote to not kill (holding to Christian teaching about man). One Christian, Ruben, is a 2K guy, he finds it a good compromise to vote to kill Bob. What should the local church say of Ruben? What does this say of Ruben? Is Ruben morally guilty? Was Ruben's vote sinful? Furthermore, in keeping with what Steve Zrimec said, suppose Ruben believes, indeed is obligated to believe, that Bob is a human. What say ye of Ruben?

If the above is rejected and no relevant disanalogy is pointed to (and if that's your approach, try to think ahead because it won't be too hard to switch up elements of the above story to get around the points raised showing it's disanalogous), then one must reject the argument that voting for the murder of children isn't sinful. If one denies he must, and one finds no logical flaw, then one must deny logic. If so, then that's another defeater for the position. If a position denies validity, then that is a good reason to deny that position.

iii) What does it even mean to claim that a Christian has an obligation to be moral but not logical? That is just odd. First, there are rational obligations to be logical. Second, one has a moral obligation to be logical, to think rationally, to be consistent. This is why the Bible can speak of people sinning in their reasonings.

iv) I wonder what role Natural Law plays in all of this. Natural Law has been the 2Kers only response to the Theonomists who wonder how 2K can escape relativism. Governments are not the highest law that rules the kingdom of common grace, natural law is. If natural law entails some position on a matter, then do not both governments and Christians have a moral obligation to honor and bring about and maintain that position? If not, just what the heck is Natural Law? Something I know not what? What is its use? Is it simply a boiler plate platitude used to escape the charge of relativism but not really something to be taken seriously?

Arminian Sensibilities

At A.M. Mallett's place, here's what his his combox looks like:

Paul Manata said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 14, 2010 7:55 AM

A.M. Mallett said...

Mr. Manata, the Triabloke Cartoon Network does not meet our community standards of decency to allow your post to remain on this board.

June 14, 2010 8:04 AM

Paul Manata said...

This post has been removed by a blog administrator.

June 14, 2010 9:27 AM

A.M. Mallett said...

Mr. Manata, you did not understand. The Triabloke Cartoon Network does not meet our community standards of decency to allow your post to remain on this board.

June 14, 2010 1:24 PM

Now, this gives the impression that I said mean and unloving things. That I made untoward comments of some kind. However, that would be far from the truth. I will now paste what I originally wrote and let the reader draw their own conclusions about the self-professed love and Christian charity expressed by Arminian epologists, Mallett being one example:

Paul Manata said...

June 14, 2010 7:55 AM

A.M. Mallett said...

Mr. Manata, the Triabloke Cartoon Network does not meet our community standards of decency to allow your post to remain on this board.

June 14, 2010 8:04 AM

Paul Manata said...

I simply posted a link to my response so thinking people could get both sides. Deleting my post and saying what you said gives the impression that I made an untoward comment.

June 14, 2010 9:27 AM

A.M. Mallett said...

Mr. Manata, you did not understand. The Triabloke Cartoon Network does not meet our community standards of decency to allow your post to remain on this board.

June 14, 2010 1:24 PM

This is but one example of the alleged Arminian's superior Christian fruit vis-a-vis the Calvinist. This is an example of what Calvinists deal with all the time. Self-serving, self-justifying, self-excepting, sola-inter-group-loving, mean and angry favoritists.

It is also interesting that Arminian epologists are not coming down on Mallett but are excusing and approving of his behavior. I recall these same epologists demanding that Triabloggers rebuke Steve Hays. However, they refuse to do what they ask of others. Their debate tactics have to be shown for what they are: Arminian epologists have, by and large, co-opted the debate tactics of the political left.

It should also be understood that Mallett is trying to protect his image by allowing only one side of the story to get out. In reality, he critiqued a post of mine and called it foolish. When it came to his attention that fellow Arminians in fact did argue in the way he called foolish, he had to backtrack. He then endorsed the interpretation he called foolish, putting my critique of interpretation back on the table as an undefeated-defeater.

Jennifer Roback Morse interview

Marvin Olasky interviews Jennifer Roback Morse on issues such as traditional marriage, the family, and "same-sex" marriage. Among other things, she provides some salient statistics.

HT: Justin Taylor.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Catholic credulity

I appreciate seeing one who is labeled "a devout Catholic" being given a video presence here.

CathApol Blog


"I appreciate seeing one who is labeled "a devout Catholic" being given a video presence here."

I appreciate Scott's candid admission of what it means to be "a devout Catholic." As one news outlet explains:

"Andrea Bocelli... lives with his girlfriend, Veronica Berti, and has two children, Amos, 12, and Matteo, 10, from his estranged wife, Enrica."

6/13/2010 10:42 AM
We don't know the relationship he has with Veronica, nor what the estrangement is all about between he and Enrica. I will agree that "living with her" is scandalous, but if they are living as brother and sister until Enrica passes, then there is no sin. If you have proof to the contrary, I would look at it, but all else would be gossip - and sinful.

Roman Catholics And Eastern Orthodox Take Celsus' Advice, In More Ways Than One

Celsus, who wrote against Christianity in the late second century, criticizes Christians for their neglect of angels and other beings lower than God (Origen, Against Celsus, 8:63). Origen mentions prayer in his response to Celsus (8:64), so he seems to think that Celsus was referring at least partially to prayer. Elsewhere, he specifically mentions that Celsus included prayer in his criticism (8:25). Origen comments that though lesser beings like angels pray with us, we're only to "pray to", or "invoke", God (8:64). (For confirmation that the "demons" Celsus wanted Christians to pray to included good angels, see Origen's comments to that effect in 5:5. Celsus didn't define the term "demons" as we commonly do today.) Origen repeatedly says that Christians pray only to God. We pray "even" to Jesus (5:4), but not to created beings (5:12). It's sufficient to imitate the angels' devotion to God without invoking them (5:5). We should pray only to God, so that all answers to prayer come from Him (5:11). For the Christian, "every prayer" is offered to God (7:51).

And it can't be argued that Origen was merely using terms like "pray" and "prayer" in an unusual way, so that Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox prayers to the dead and to angels wouldn't be included. Origen uses a variety of terms to make these points I've just mentioned, not merely terms like "pray" and "prayer". And the comments of Celsus that he's responding to don't suggest that some unusual definition of prayer would be in mind.

Neither Celsus in the second century nor Origen in the third seems to think that mainstream Christianity prayed to the dead or to angels. Celsus criticizes Christians for their neglect of such practices, and Origen defends that Christian neglect. "Away with Celsus' advice when he says that 'we ought to pray to demons'. We ought not to pay the slightest attention to it. We ought to pray to the supreme God alone, and to pray besides to the only-begotten Logos of God" (8:26).

Also see Viisaus' comments in the thread here concerning other relevant material from Celsus and other early enemies of Christianity.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rocks for Brains Arminian

A mean, angry and unloving Arminian by the name of A.M. Mallett (infamous for bad arguments against Calvinism) decided to respond to my post, An Arminian Argument for Determinism.

Basically, my post took aim at an Arminian eisogetical argument from 1 John 2:16 that has been recklessly used by the likes of J.C. Thibodeaux and Bossmanham, among others. The argument was brought up to refute Steve Nemes and to show that God cannot be the "ultimate originator" of any actions whatever because the passage says that sin is not "from" God. So I simply quoted Jesus: "Apart from me, you can do nothing." I thus answered the Arminian on their own terms. Speaking for myself (as my post made clear), I don't think either verse properly exegeted speak to the specific and technical subject of origination in terms of the contemporary discussion. So, neither verse proves that God is or is not the "ultimate source" back of all actions.

Enter A.M. Mallett. He decided to mosey into the debate and make his presence known.He quotes me:

Some Arminian epologists have been using 1 John 2:16 to argue that in no sense can the origination of a sinful action be determined by God. That is because John says those things don't come "from" the father.

And responds thus,

That is an odd statement. While I certainly cannot account for all Arminian arguments regarding the passage, I do not think I have ever encountered that argument. The source for the statement was not provided so I can only work with the Triabloke claim which strikes me as a straw man set up solely for the purpose of burning in some perverse joy. Here is the passage in full context.

Now, besides his mean, angry, and unloving name-calling, his revealing psychological priorities displayed by his use of terms like "molests" and "perverse", is just the sloppy nature of his response. Notice:

i) I was responding to a select group who were aware of the links and did not feel inclined to justify the claim given my intended audience. However, we should note that it is odd that A.M. Mallett chose not to link to my blog entry. If he had done so, one would be able to easily see through his distortion of my post.

ii) He undercuts the Arminians who used this passage! Not only that, Bossmanham commented on his blog and lauded Mallett's post.

iii) As an email correspondent who alerted me to Mallett's post wrote: "Apparently he was out to lunch on that whole long thread over at Arminian Perspectives. So he automatically blames you for his own ignorance. Not only does this ignorant accusation make him look stupid (especially when he fails to keep up with what his own side is saying), but it's not exactly a charitable accusation."

Next, he says,

Rather than a discussion of the Calvinist philosophy of determinism, the passage in question is contrasting the carnal desires of the world with that of the love of the Father. Wesley framed verse 16 as:
But this is similar to the interpretation I gave of the passage! If he would have linked to my post, people could have called him on that. The passage is not talking about origination in the sense of contemporary debates on moral responsibility. So Mallett supports what I explicitly affirm in my post while pretending he is critiquing me. So, again, he sides with me in undercutting the poor Arminian argument from 1 John 2:16 that was employed as a spoof text against Nemes.

While some Calvinist eisegesis practitioners may wish to make hay over a far fetched application and strawman of their own construction, they tend to look foolish doing so.

But who looks foolish? Me or Mallett? Me or the Arminians I was responding too? Certainly not me because I never eisogeted the verse and used it in such an irresponsible way. I was responding to them and their bad interpretation on their own terms. My post made it explicit that I didn't buy their eisogesis. So it is either Mallett or the Arminians I was responding to who look foolish, in fact, it is both of them who look foolish.

The contrast between the world (outside of Christ) and abiding in Christ is what is intended with the passage. It is how most Arminians understand the passage and teach it.

Again, the ironic thing is that Mallett is critiquing the Arminians I was responding too. He's not critiquing me. He shakes his head at how foolish I am, but when one has rocks for brains, shaking one's head is the last thing you want to do.



A.M. Mallett said...
As a secondary argument, I'm comfortable with it. Perhaps I was hasty with my comments.

June 11, 2010 5:29 AM

Now this Mallett character is comfortable with the argument he was ripping up! The title of his post was, "A Triabloke Molests 1 John 2:16." But now he accepts the molested interpretation. However, if he has, then he has my counter-argument back on the table, and A.M. Mallett is another Arminian who employs and understands a spoof text that proves determinism, i.e., given John 15:5 conjoined with their understanding of "from"! Moreover, he should apologize to me for saying I "look foolish" since he now accepts what he said should make one look foolish. He will not apologize and he will try to spin his horribly bad post, that's how Arminian epologists (besides Dan Chapa) role.

As my email correspondent said:

"He accused you of misrepresenting Arminianism, in his ignorance of what his Arminians compadres were saying over at Arminian Perspectives.

When Boss drew his attention to that thread, this put him in a bind. So now he's in a no-win situation. He can either recant his post, in which case he loses face–or else he can stick to his guns, and thereby condemn his Arminian cohorts. Right now he's trying to do a little of both, which is incoherent."

Oil be back

The Significance Of Later Patristic Support For Prayer To The Dead

I've been posting a lot about praying to the dead lately. I've done that largely because it's a topic that isn't addressed often, and it's rarely addressed in much depth when it does come up. I'm still discussing the subject with Christine, a Roman Catholic, in another thread. We're still discussing Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Isaiah 8:19, Isaiah 19:3, Origen's view of prayer, and some other issues. Anybody interested can read that thread. What I want to do here is repost my comments on the significance of the later patristic support for prayer to the dead, as well as what I said about some other topics. I hope these recent exchanges on prayer to the dead will help people in thinking through these issues.

You [Christine] write:

"It is indeed a refutation if you accept later development of doctrine on the Trinity, the nature of Christ, the nature of the Holy Spirit, etc. by the very same church fathers who also support requesting the saints’ intercession."

I've documented examples of your disagreements with the theology of those later fathers. Again, see here. You need to ask yourself whether your objection to my position is consistent with your own position. If you're not consistent with your own reasoning, why do you expect anybody else to be?

I don't get Trinitarianism from the later church fathers. I get it from scripture. The fact that the later fathers were correct on such issues doesn't prove that I should agree with them about everything else. You don't agree with them about everything else.

You write:

"If it was so clearly a heresy, then at least ONE of the fathers should have said something against it—but instead, you find widespread support."

You haven't given us any example of an early father who "said something against" the early opposition to prayer to the dead. Or the early opposition to the sinlessness of Mary. Or the early opposition to some other Roman Catholic doctrines. If the earlier fathers disagree with you, but the later fathers agree with you, it doesn't make sense for you to reject the view of the earlier fathers (or irrationally deny that they disagreed with you) while asking me why I disagree with the later fathers. If I think the earlier fathers contradict the later fathers, then I have to choose between them. Why would it be unreasonable to side with the earlier fathers?

And I don't make the same claims about early church history that Catholics have made. I believe that widespread error can occur, much as we see in Biblical times (2 Kings 22:8-13, Nehemiah 8:13-17). And I don't just look to the men commonly classified as church fathers today in order to judge what beliefs were held historically. Vigilantius opposed prayer to the dead in the post-Nicene era, and he was himself a presbyter. As Jerome acknowledged (Against Vigilantius, 2-3), Vigilantius had the support of bishops and other church leaders and laymen. And others opposed prayer to the dead after Vigilantius' time and prior to the Reformation. Prayer to the dead was popular, but it wasn't universally accepted. The unpopularity of my view in later patristic centuries isn't as bad as the absence and contradiction of your view in scripture and in the earlier patristic centuries.

You write:

"The fact is, you cannot offer a reasoned justification; you can only selectively quote and ignore what you wish from their writings. That is precisely what Luther and Calvin did, and it’s a practice that has continued on since the time of the Reformation."

Is that why your own denomination's scholars keep giving up ground in their historical disputes with Protestants? Why do you think appeals to doctrinal development have become so popular among Catholics in recent times? I've already linked you to posts in which I document Catholic scholars' acknowledgment of the early absence and widespread contradiction of Catholic doctrine (Klaus Schatz on the papacy, Ludwig Ott on the veneration of images, etc.).

You write:

"Your argument basically goes like this: Scripture says nothing about requesting the saints’ intercession, therefore, it didn’t happen then/it is forbidden. The ante-Nicene fathers say nothing about requesting the saints’ intercession (although, as noted above, I do believe Origen does), therefore, it didn’t happen then/it is forbidden. One can see why this is wrong: it’s an argumentum ex silentio, and is classified among the logical fallacies. In fact, the argument from silence is precisely what credobaptists use to argue against infant baptism, as the New Testament does not anywhere explicitly make the case for infant baptism."

Since I've repeatedly argued that scripture condemns attempts to contact the dead, citing passages in Deuteronomy and Isaiah, why would you claim that I just appeal to silence? Likewise, when I cite passages from the ante-Nicene fathers that seem to oppose prayer to the dead in some manner, why would you claim that my approach is to appeal to silence?

But even if I did only appeal to silence, whether such an appeal is fallacious depends on the context. If there's silence in a context in which we would expect something to be mentioned under the conditions in question, then there's nothing fallacious about appealing to silence. I've explained why prayer to the dead should have been mentioned where it wasn't. You need to address what I said instead of continuing to ignore it.

And if you think that credobaptists just appeal to silence, then credobaptism is another position you're criticizing without knowing much about it. I'm a credobaptist, I've argued for the position on this blog, and I didn't just appeal to silence. See my two articles on the subject on the page I linked you to earlier, here, and you can find a lot of other material I've written on the subject in the archives. You could also read some credobaptist scholars, like the ones who contributed to Thomas Schreiner and Shawn Wright, edd., Believer's Baptism (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2006). They don't just appeal to silence. Neither do the paedobaptist scholars I've cited in my articles elsewhere on this blog, who acknowledge some of the early evidence for credobaptism.

You keep telling us about your Oxford education. So, why do you keep arguing at a Catholic Answers level?