Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Catholic shell-game

The PP has a really fine post on the Catholic shell-game over religious authority--now you see it, now you don't. He does an excellent job of boarding over all the fire exits. Check it out:

Faith & family

Here’s an edifying object lesson in how a family of theologians has lived out its faith in the midst of the ordinary and extraordinary adversities which confront many believers.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How Did I Miss This?

How did I miss this? Yesterday I was talking with a colleague about the Feinberg brothers at TEDS, when he said something about the death of Paul Feinberg. I couldn’t believe it! When I checked the facts I found that Paul had passed away more than a year ago in February of 2004. At that time I was deeply involved in trying to learn the intricacies of a new job, and news of his death never came to my attention.

When I was in doctoral studies at TEDS, I took a course from Paul on “Case Studies in Theological Problem Areas.” Rarely have I had a professor who was better equipped to teach his subject. Paul was a highly competent theologian (with a Th.D. from Dallas) and philosopher (ABD at that time from the University of Chicago). He wrote cogently on eschatology, dispensationalism, ethics, and bibliology, among other topics.

He was a defender of the faith who was active in the inerrancy debate. He helped to found the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. He was also a defender of dispensational pretribulationism, a theology that was out of style through most of his career. In the sometimes harsh debate between presuppositionalism and evidentialism, he took the middle ground by advocating a “cumulative case” approach (I believe that was what he called it) that was invariably stated with grace.

Among all of my teachers, he was one of the most genuinely human. He invited us to share his personal and even private concerns, and reciprocated by displaying a genuinely humane interest in our struggles. When I knew him, his father (Charles Feinberg, the famous dispensational theologian) had reached the point at which he was no longer able to live alone. Paul was struggling with the decision of how best to care for his father. He sought our counsel and took it seriously.

One of my classmates asked Paul why his father had left Dallas Theological Seminary. He answered with a grin, “My father always said that Dr. Chafer could only give two grades: an A with a smile or a B with an apology.”

I was learning from Paul at the very time when Norman Geisler was attacking Murray Harris over his views on the resurrection of Christ. Of course, Paul knew both men very well. He thought that Geisler was creating a tempest in a teapot, but what struck me more was his handling of Geisler. There wasn't a shred of contempt or defensiveness on Feinberg's part, even though the two of them disagreed sharply. He spent half-an-hour in class one day explaining why Geisler tended to argue theology in the way that he did. I went away understanding both Geisler and Feinberg better.

Paul Feinberg was a good theologian, a good teacher, a kind and gracious person. I am embarrassed that I did not know he had been called home. I count myself privileged to have studied with him.

Dr. Kevin Bauder is the president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary,


Where Is God: A Personal Story of Finding God in Grief and Suffering (Paperback)
by John S. Feinberg

Book Description
Almost invariably, there comes a time when pat answers even from trusted friends can’t begin to respond to your suffering. For John Feinberg that moment came in 1987, when his beloved wife was diagnosed with an incurable, genetically transmitted disease.

Where is God? tells of John’s struggle to find peace and God, in the midst of the life-rocking storm. The journey to truth has been long and hard, but Feinberg’s painful experience has affirmed God’s faithfulness.

Unlike other books by Dr. Feinberg, this book is rather informal and personal. He recounts his reaction to some horrible news in his family and what he has learned from it over the past 18 years. He also explores how fellow Christians can help others who are hurting while offering some hope for those who are currently dealing with tough times. His story is touching, and after reading it I feel better-equipped to help comfort and support those who are hurting in the church.

Everyone will enjoy this book.


You've prayed for God's will. You're living for him. And still, you encounter pain like you've never imagined. Doubt threatens to shatter your faith at its core. What then?

Almost invariably, there comes a time when people's pat answers can't even begin to respond to your suffering. When all the Sunday school lessons and sermons about God's love seem shallow, even mocking. When hope gives way to soul-jarring anger and severe, relentless questions.

For John Feinberg, that moment came in 1987, when his beloved wife was diagnosed with an incurable, genetically transmitted disease. One that may potentially and tragically affect their children. One that is beyond any human control.

Within the telling of his story, the author goes head-to-head with the painful issues aroused by suffering and grief: Can God be trusted? Does his silence mean disfavor? Is hope an illusion? He also shares how not to help the afflicted and explores the "uses" of suffering, particularly in a Christian's life.

The journey to the truth has been long and hard, but Feinberg's painful experience has affirmed for him God's faithfulness--even in the most wrenching and incomprehensible of circumstances. You too will find truth and hope and the strength to go on in this reassuring book.

Friday, August 12, 2005

From the war front

It's hard to get solid info on the war. Even the conservative coverage generally consists of pointy-headed pundits far removed from the thick of battle. Below is one of the better milblogs I've run across. If you blush in the presence of blue language, don't read it, but most of the blue language is not coming from the soldiers, but from the pampered liberal moonbats who rant and rave in the comments box.

Drinking with a moderate Muslim


I got a call from an active duty SEAL buddy yesterday afternoon letting me know he was going to be in town for the night. He and I also went to high school together so we met at a friend’s house had some barbeque and started catching up over some beers. At some point in the evening, I met a 28 year old Egyptian guy who was born in the US. He was a friend of the host, but I didn’t really get a good look at him right away as it was dark outside when he showed up.

The GWOT was a major topic of discussion as my Teammate and I spent much of the time catching up on what’s happening in the Teams, and who is doing what and so forth. The conversation somehow turned to the Israeli-Palestinian situation and out came the whole issue of the most silent majority on the planet… the moderate muslim. It was at this point, my acquaintance made his presence known.

He claimed to be one of those vaunted moderates that hates radical islamists and abhors terrorism. My question to him was, “Why don’t I ever hear anything from this vast moderate majority?” His answer was to say, “Because the media won’t report it when we do speak out. Besides, George Bush says that most muslims aren’t radical.” That answer was an interesting one, and I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to it.

He asked me if I supported Israel against the Palestinians, and I told him, “100% without reservation.” Which was clearly not what he wanted to hear. He was basically regurgitating the full revisionist meme about the land being stolen from Palestinians by the British and the Jews. My beer soaked mind could only think to say that essentially the Israelis were attacked on all sides and kicked a** in all directions. They won their land fair and square, not to mention the fact that this was the second time they had to do it if you count Joshua leading the nation of Israel into the Promised Land. And I do. He didn’t like that either.

Then I put the question to him, “What are YOU doing to fight against radical elements that are ‘hijacking’ your religion?” His answer, “What can I do?” Since he speaks Arabic, I asked if he had offered his abilities to the FBI to help translate terrorist intercepts. No. Ever volunteer to go and check out a mosque for the FBI to see if there are any questionable activities going on? No. I told him that even if he went into mosques just to rule them out as hotbeds of jihad and reported to the authorities, he would be helping to prevent resources from being squandered. That was all I could think of as I was like six beers deep at that point. Who knows what kind of slurring screed I was riffing on at the time; I’m just reporting what I can recall.

I ended up drinking and talking with the guy for several hours after that and he turned out to be a great guy. The earlier contentious conversation was disappointing because while I believe him when he says he is against radical jihadis, he had clearly been spoon fed much of the “muslim victim” pap from the likes of CAIR and others. He was uninformed and even spewing propaganda about Israel that while didn’t reach the level of terrorist support, certainly was the type of rhetoric used to support those activities. I know I mentioned that the Palestinian’s goal is to annihilate all Israelis, but I never did get a response to that.

The lesson learned was that we are going to have to wait a long time for moderates to take charge of islam and reform it to the point that jihad is no longer in fashion. I guess we better just keep killing the terrorists wherever we find them.


Inking the missing links

To a layman like me, it looks like the Darwinist is filling in the missing links with paper and ink. Evidentally I'm not alone in that suspicion:

"Transitional Vertebrate Fossils"

A criticism frequently levelled against Darwinism is that there are no transitional fossils linking one species with another. Darwinists strongly reject this charge and the talk-origins "FAQ" by Kathleen Hunt entitled 'Transitional Vertebrate Fossils' is perhaps the most robust defence of this issue from a Darwinian point of view.

Hunt begins her "FAQ" by drawing a distinction between transitional fossils that show a 'general lineage' and those that demonstrate 'species-to-species transition'. The latter she defines as 'a very fine grained sequence documenting the actual speciation event.'

This is a courageously unambiguous definition and one that leads any rational person to expect that Hunt will then present evidence for such a 'fine grained sequence' that documents an 'actual speciation event'. Unfortunately, however, that is not what is presented in her "FAQ".

Take, for example, one of the most important and earliest transitions that Darwinists claim took place, that of primitive jawless fish to sharks, skates and rays. This is the evidence that Hunt actually offers us: (I have highlighted certain words in red)

Transition from primitive jawless fish to sharks, skates, and rays
• Late Silurian -- first little simple shark-like denticles.
• Early Devonian -- first recognizable shark teeth, clearly derived from scales.

GAP: Note that these first, very very old traces of shark-like animals are so fragmentary that we can't get much detailed information. So, we don't know which jawless fish was the actual ancestor of early sharks.
• Cladoselache (late Devonian) -- Magnificent early shark fossils, found in Cleveland roadcuts during the construction of the U.S. interstate highways. Probably not directly ancestral to sharks, but gives a remarkable picture of general early shark anatomy, down to the muscle fibers!
• Tristychius & similar hybodonts (early Mississippian) -- Primitive proto-sharks with broad-based but otherwise shark-like fins.
• Ctenacanthus & similar ctenacanthids (late Devonian) -- Primitive, slow sharks with broad-based shark-like fins & fin spines. Probably ancestral to all modern sharks, skates, and rays. Fragmentary fin spines (Triassic) -- from more advanced sharks.
• Paleospinax (early Jurassic) -- More advanced features such as detached upper jaw, but retains primitive ctenacanthid features such as two dorsal spines, primitive teeth, etc.
• Spathobatis (late Jurassic) -- First proto-ray.
• Protospinax (late Jurassic) -- A very early shark/skate. After this, first heterodonts, hexanchids, & nurse sharks appear (late Jurassic). Other shark groups date from the Cretaceous or Eocene. First true skates known from Upper Cretaceous.

Notice that, where we are promised a 'fine-grained sequence documenting an actual speciation event,' what we are actually given is conjecture and suppositions like:-

'. . .clearly derived from

'. . probably not ancestral, but gives a remarkable picture . .'

' . . shark-like fins . .'

' . . Probably ancestral . .'

' . . more advanced features but retains primitive features . .'

' . . a very early . . . '

Notice that these and similar frequently-used phrases are not scientific terms, They are undefined Darwinist code words, used to suggest or imply that there is strong or direct scientific evidence of a relationship -- other similar phrases are found throughout the "FAQ", such as 'mammalian tendencies' ' and 'bear-like features' Other handy terms and phrases used to explain fossil features that don't fit the Darwinist theory include 'vestigial' and this truly magnificent one, 'Another early mustelid, but has some rather puzzling traits that may mean it is not a direct ancestor of later mustelids.' Puzzling, indeed.

In every case, these terms are used without any evidence to support them other than the trivial fact that there is some physical resemblance -- the argument from homology. But as pointed out elsewhere, if you relied on homology as a guide you would conclude that the human foot had evolved from the human hand, or vice versa -- something we know cannot be true.

Moreover, on top of all these weasel words, Hunt actually admits from the outset that there is a gap in the fossils and adds, without a trace of irony,

'So, we don't know which jawless fish was the actual ancestor of early sharks.'

In which case, one is bound to ask, Then what the Dickens is this description doing in a "FAQ" purporting to give concrete, species-to-species examples of transitions between jawless fish and sharks?

What is true for jawless fish is true for every single species and every single 'transition' on Hunt's list. And the reason is the same in every case. It is because when a convinced Darwinist looks at the fossil evidence and talks of 'transitions' he or she means something quite different from what any ordinary, objective reasonable observer means. So what exactly does a Darwinist mean by the word 'transition' and what does an objective reasonable observer mean?

Darwinists believe that one species turns into another species through a process of genetic mutation combined with natural selection. This is necessarily a gradual process, one that happens over the generations. So that if you examine the offspring of any particular generation, it will not seem so very different from its parents. But if you examine the offspring distant by, say, one hundred generations, or one thousand generations, or ten thousand generations from the original species, then you will see a major difference.

But when it comes to evaluating fossils, looking for this difference, there is a difficulty that doesn’t exist with living species. You can tell whether living creatures are members of the same or different species by carrying out a laboratory test (such as artificial insemination) to see if they are physiologically capable of breeding. If they are so capable then they belong to the same species; if they are not, they belong to different species. Unfortunately, however, it is impossible to apply the breeding test to animals known only from their fossils.

It is also possible to sequence the DNA of living or recently dead creatures and make a comparison of their DNA to see how closely related they are. But again, DNA testing (of the 'Jurassic Park' kind) is not available for fossil animals.

What this means is that there remains only one valid scientific test that would enable an objective observer to claim that one fossil is related by descent to an earlier fossil and that is an unbroken (or practically intact) chain of evidence linking the earlier and later fossils.

It is sometimes said that this demand is for an impossibly high standard of evidence -- like expecting an archaeologist to find an intact tomb of Caesar or Cleopatra with their personal diary beside the body. The reality is somewhat different.

Three-quarters of the Earth's land surface is covered with sedimentary rocks. A great proportion of these rocks are continuously stratified where they outcrop and the strata contain distinctive fossils such as sea urchins in the chalk and ammonites in many Mesozoic rocks. The case for Darwinism would be made convincingly if someone were to produce a sequence of fossils from a sequence of adjacent strata (such as ammonite species or sea urchins) showing indisputable signs of gradual progressive change on the same basic stock, but above the species level (as distinct from subspecific variation).

Ideally this should be demonstrated in a long sequence, ten or twenty or fifty successive fossil species, showing major generic evolution - but a short sequence would be enough. But this simple relationship is not what is shown in the sequence of the rocks. Nowhere in the world has anyone met this simple evidential criterion with a straightforward fossil sequence from successive strata. Yet there are so many billions of fossils available from so many thousands of strata, that the failure to meet this modest demand is inexplicable if transitions have taken place in the way Hunt describes.

It ought to be relatively easy to assemble not merely a handful but hundreds of species arranged in lineal descent. Schoolchildren should be able to do this on an afternoon's nature study trip to the local quarry: but even the world's foremost paleontologists have failed to do so with the whole Earth to choose from and the resources of the world's greatest universities at their disposal.

This is the reason that a genuinely objective observer says there is not a single transition known. And when Darwinists assert that there are many such transitional fossils what they really mean is that they have found isolated fossils that look as if they are intermediate between one species or another ( 'probably', 'shark-like' 'tendencies', 'mammal-like') -- therefore, they must be evidence of transitional species, because Darwinism predicts such fossils.

Or they mean that they can find limited physical variation occurring in a true fossil line of descent (shells getting a little longer or a little shorter) and try to claim that this amounts to 'speciation' -- just as they do with living varieties such as the peppered moth or Darwin's finches.

This is a kind of circular evidence -- evidence by argument -- that would not be permitted in any other university department or in any other branch of science. Yet it is not only tolerated in Palaeontology, it is actively taught and encouraged.

What then is the scientific status of the detailed schemes of descent that Hunt and other Darwinists have drawn up over the past century?

When you have before you a massive amount of data, especially data that is generically similar, it is very easy to perceive patterns in that data that look like 'sequences'. All that is necessary is to take the data that does not fit your 'sequence' and file it away in a drawer labelled 'Not yet decided', 'status unknown' or simply 'unsolved problems'. In reality, if the data in the file drawer were added to the so-called sequence data, any objective observer would quickly see that there isn’t a developing series but a mass of contradictory details.

This pitfall entraps scientists constantly. In the recent past some Israeli professors of mathematics have published a book asserting that the names of twentieth century people can be found encoded in the Bible -- and so they can, if you select the data to fit your theory.

Of course, this is not to deny the sincerity or integrity of the scientists who sincerely believe they have found such evolutionary sequences -- just as the Israeli professors sincerely believe they have found Adolph Hitler in the Bible.


My recommendation to those responsible for maintaining the talk-origins "FAQ":-

This "FAQ" should be returned to Kathleen Hunt and she should be asked to remove from it all conjecture, baseless assertions and guesswork based on trivial superficial similarities.

Wherever she wishes to assert a relationship between two species, she should be asked to produce direct evidence (as distinct from conjecture) first that they really are two species, not merely varieties, and that there is an unbroken chain of intermediate variation of the type predicted by Darwinism in the intermediate strata between them.

She should be asked to remove undefined cod-scientific words (such as 'mammalian tendencies' and 'shark-like' ) and replace them instead with terms defined according to established scientific principles.

Whatever is left after this process is the sum total of human knowledge on transitional fossils.

The seal of the false prophets

According to Islam, Muhammad is the seal of the prophets (i.e. the final prophet). From the standpoint of Christian theology and church history, it would be more apt to dub him the seal of the false prophets.

Jihadism goes straight back to the word and example of Muhammad himself. For some excellent documentation on the subject, see:

The civil wars of Popery

Papist Civil Wars Are Alive and Well (Can a Leopard Change Its Spots?)

Let's briefly note a few of these "worse than absurd" disagreements between fellow Romanists currently taking place on the Internet (obviously nothing has changed in some 1700 years: Catholics fought each other then and they continue to do so, and split and form new factions). The following are not mere examples of gentlemanly disagreement: they are uncivil, acrimonious exchanges characterized by personal remarks at the expense of the other's honesty, sincerity, intelligence, basic knowledge, etc.

The discord largely derives from the bankruptcy of the notions of Magisterial judgment and sola Ecclesia. Those were the Romanist principles, so I place primary blame on what has happened by way of endless division and schism, right there. False premises can be just as deadly in the long run as sin and corruption, etc., because a lie is a bad thing, and the devil is the father of lies.


The Donatists and Novatianists Live:

"Traditionalist" and Schismatic Catholics

Pensées on Catholic “Traditionalism” (my book; available in PDF or Word 2000)

Dialogue: The "Traditionalist" Disdain for the Second Vatican Council: Is it Consistent With Catholic Tradition? Is it Binding on All Catholics? (With Copious References, and a Discussion of the Infallibility and Sublime Authority of Conciliar and Papal Decrees and Pronouncements) 189K

Conciliar Infallibility: Church Documents 23K

Protestant Contra-Catholic Revisionist History: Pope St. Pius X and Cardinal Newman's Alleged "Modernism" (Dave Armstrong vs. David T. King) 94K

Dietrich von Hildebrand and Legitimate Catholic Traditionalism 45K

Dialogue on "Salvation Outside the Church" and Alleged Catholic Magisterial Contradictions (Particularly in the Middle Ages; With Emphasis on St. Thomas Aquinas's Views) 81K

A Defense of the Ecumenical Gathering at Assisi (Ecumenism in St. Thomas Aquinas)(Fr. Alfredo M. Morselli) 35K

A Response to (and Wonderment at) Criticisms of the Second Ecumenical Gathering at Assisi (2002) (Mark P. Shea) 25K

Dialogue: Should the Pope Kiss The Koran?: Ecumenism as an Effort to Acknowledge Partial Truth Wherever it is Found (Dave Armstrong vs. David Palm) 71K

"Why Doesn't Pope John Paul II DO Something About the Modernist Dissenters in the Catholic Church?" 39K

Are All Catholic Laymen and Non-Theologians Qualified to Freely and Frequently Criticize the Pope's Opinions and Prudential Judgment? (Dave Armstrong vs. Mario Derksen) 72K

My "Second Catholic Conversion": A Reductio ad Absurdum of So-Called Catholic "Traditionalism" 42K

Catholic Fundamentalism and "Insufficiently Converted Catholics" 9K

Dialogue: Baptism, the Mystical Body of Christ, and Implications for Ecumenism 18K

My Traditional Novus Ordo Parish 16K

How to Receive Communion: Tradition, Abuses, Symbolism, and Piety 13K

Critique of The Remnant, with Copious Documentation (Dave Armstrong vs. John Vennari, Michael J. Matt, etc.)

Dialogue on The Remnant ("Traditionalist" Group) (Dave Armstrong vs. Mark Cameron)

Syllabus of 60 "Traditionalist" Errors, Fallacies, and False Principles

Critique of my Syllabus of 60 "Traditionalist" Errors and My Counter-Reply (Dave Armstrong vs. Mark Cameron)

A Critique of the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), "Traditionalism," and the "Schismatic Spirit" (Dave Armstrong vs. several "traditionalists")

Dialogue With Three Schismatic, "Traditionalist Catholics"

Dialogue: So-Called "Traditionalists" vs. So-Called "Conservatives" (Dave Armstrong vs. two "traditionalists")

Dialogue on Vatican II, Conciliar Infallibility, and the SSPX (Dave Armstrong vs. an SSPX "traditionalist")

Dialogue: Vatican II and Other Religions (Nostra Aetate)

Dialogue: Catholic "Traditionalism": the Dreadful Malady of the Mind and Scourge of an Optimistic Faith in God's Protection of His Church (Dave Armstrong vs. David Palm and Mario Derksen)

Dialogue with a Troubled Semi-Traditionalist on the "Catastrophe" of the Post-Vatican II Church

Reflections on False Catholic "Traditionalism"

How Anti-Catholics Can be Catholics' Brothers in Christ

Dialogue on the Legitimacy of Catholic Development of Doctrine, With Reference to Vatican I, Vatican II, and the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Dave Armstrong vs. a Feeneyite and an SSPX sympathizer)

Apologia for Catholic Ecumenism and Christian Unity

My "Neo-Conservative 'Messianic'" Affinities? Weird Remark From Bob Sungenis (Dave Armstrong vs. Robert Sungenis)

Karl Keating Is Motivated More By Money Than By Truth, and Is a Coward, So Sez Robert Sungenis

"Traditionalist" Catholic Attacks on Pope John Paul II: Accusations of Incompetence, Modernism, Compromise, and Heresy

Pope Benedict XVI (as Cardinal Ratzinger): Vatican II Has the Same Authority as Trent (if one goes, both go)

The "Traditionalist" Pet Term Neo-Catholic: Where Does it Come From? What Does it Mean?

"Traditionalist" Errors of the Seattle Catholic Documented

Kevin Tierney's False Accusation That I am an "Integrist" (Demand For Proofs)

First Counter-Reply to Kevin Tierney's "Proofs" That I Am an "Integrist" (Prudence and Dogma in Ecumenism)

2nd Counter-Reply to Kevin Tierney's "Proofs" That I Am an "Integrist" (Pope John Paul II's Ecumenism & Lesser Disputes)

Needed Corrective of a Good Man Who Has Gotten Legalistic About Certain Catholic Moral Teachings (Stephen Hand) (+ BlogBack Comments)

Stephen Hand's Bizarre Flip-Flops Concerning Critics of His Integrism, and Other Ludicrous Double Standards

Karl Keating and Christopher Blosser: Catholic Apologetics IS Important / Stephen Hand: MOST of it Stinks

"Hand Full of Insults": Stephen Hand's Public Personal Attacks on "War Bloggers" (Documented)

Pro-Abortionists Joseph Gerson and the AFSC, Dr. Carol Wolman, the "Seamless Robe," and Stephen Hand

On Actual "Obsessions", "Angsts", and "Tormented Consciences" (Aka "Slight of Hand" Dept.) (Part Two | Part Three | Addendum) [Stephen Hand's Legalistic Integrism] (I. Shawn McElhinney)

Vatican II
What Went Wrong With Vatican II? (Ralph McInerny)
What did the Second Vatican Council do for us? (Ian Ker)
The Renewal of Vatican II: Distractions and Distortions (Douglas Bushman)
Bright Promise, Failed Community: Catholics and the American Public Order (book by Catholic sociologist Joseph A. Varacalli)
Making the True Vatican II Our Own (John Saward)
Vatican II and Religious Liberty: Contradiction or Continuity? (Brian W. Harrison)
Non-Schismatic Traditionalist, Tridentine / Novus Ordo Latin Mass, and Liturgical Reform Websites and Articles
Agenda (William Grossklas; contra-SSPX website)
Rerum Novarum (I. Shawn McElhinney)
F. John Loughnan's Page (former SSPX member)
ULTRATRADITIONALISTS (website by "Matt1618"; including many papers by I. Shawn McElhinney)
Crown of David - Honouring Christ the King in His Royal Heritage (Michael Petek)
The Catholic Liturgical Library
James Likoudis' Page
A Bill of Rights for Orthodox Catholics (Mark J. Kelly)
Latin Mass (Novus Ordo) Directory for the USA
Schismatic Traditionalists (Matt C. Abbott)
SSPX / Lefebvrites
Introduction to the Lefebvrist Schism (James Akin)
Decree of Excommunication on Marcel Lefebvre
The Protocol of Agreement of the Vatican and Archbishop Lefebvre
Archbishop Lefebvre and the Declaration on Religious Liberty (William G. Most)
Ecclesia Dei (Pope John Paul II on the schismatic Society of St. Pius X)
Agenda (William Grossklas; contra-SSPX website)
A Canonical History of the Lefebvrite Schism (Peter J. Vere)
My Journey Out of the Lefebvre Schism: All Tradition Leads to Rome (Pete Vere)
Is the Society of St. Pius X in Schism? A Recent Response from Rome (F. John Loughnan)
Status of Society of St. Pius X Masses (Pontifical Commission on Ecclesia Dei)
Status of SSPX (Pontifical Commission on Ecclesia Dei)
The Flat Earth Society and SSPX-Type "Traditionalists" (F. John Loughnan)
Schism, Obedience, & SSPX (John Beaumont & John Walsh)
Lefebvrism: Jansenism Revisited? (Anthony Fisher) + SSPX Type Traditionalists (F. John Loughnan)
Do-it Yourself Popes: The Wacky World of Sedevacantists (Michael Petek)

Compiled by Dave Armstrong. Thorough URL Revision: 6 March 2004. Updated: 8 August 2005.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

"NeoCaths" and Old Liberal Nonsense: Challenges to Fr. Joseph O'Leary's Trashing of Orthodox Catholic Apologetics
Once again we have witnessed the spectacle of a liberal Catholic (this time, sadly, a priest: Fr. Joseph O'Leary) trashing the apologetics movement ("The Rise of the Neocaths"), complete with the obligatory use of the term fundamentalist ("They argue by proof texts, in complete contempt of biblical scholarship and hermeneutics. Their ingenuity in defending their fundamentalist stances is extreme"), mocking of established Catholic sexual morality ("They insist that masturbation is mortally sinful, and have an especial enthusiasm for the teaching that homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and that homosexual acts can never be countenanced"), and use of a semi-novel pejorative descriptive: Neocaths.

The term Neo-Catholic is (somewhat ironically) normally used by "traditionalists" (equally improperly, as I have written about).

The view from the other side

Opinion: The Muslim mind is on fire
Youssef M. Ibrahim
July 26, 2005

DUBAI -- The world of Islam is on fire. Indeed, the Muslim mind is on fire. Above all, the West is now ready to take both of them on.

The latest reliable report confirms that on average 33 Iraqis die every day, executed by Iraqis and foreign jihadis and suicide bombers, not by US or British soldiers. In fact, fewer than ever US or British soldiers are dying since the invasion more than two years ago. Instead, we now watch on television hundreds of innocent Iraqis lying without limbs, bleeding in the streets dead or wounded for life. If this is jihad someone got his religious education completely upside down.

Palestine is on fire, too, with Palestinian armed groups fighting one another - Hamas against Fatah and all against the Palestinian Authority. All have rendered Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas impotent and have diminished the world's respect and sympathy for Palestinian sufferings.

A couple of weeks ago London was on fire as Pakistani and other Muslims with British citizenship blew up tube stations in the name of Islam. Al Qaeda in Europe or one of its franchises proclaimed proudly the killing of 54 and wounding 700 innocent citizens was done to "avenge Islam" and Muslims.

Madrid was on fire, too, last year, when Muslim jihadis blew up train stations killing 160 people and wounding a few thousands.

The excuse in all the above cases was the war in Iraq, but let us not forget that in September 2001, long before Iraq, Osama Bin Laden proudly announced that he ordered the killing of some 3,000 in the United States, in the name of avenging Islam. Let us not forget that the killing began a long time before the invasion of Iraq.

Indeed, jihadis have been killing for a decade in the name of Islam. They killed innocent tourists and natives in Morocco and Egypt, in Africa, in Indonesia and in Yemen, all done in the name of Islam by Muslims who say that they are better than all other Muslims. They killed in India, in Thailand and are now talking of killing in Germany and Denmark and so on. There were attacks with bombs that killed scores inside Shia and Sunni mosques, inside churches and inside synagogues in Turkey and Tunisia, with Muslim preachers saying that it is okay to kill Jews and Christians - the so called infidels.

Above all, it is the Muslim mind that is on fire.

The Muslim fundamentalist who attacked the Dutch film director Theo Van Gogh in the Netherlands, stabbed him more than 23 times then cut his throat. He recently proudly proclaimed at his trial: "I did it because my religion - Islam - dictated it and I would do it again if were free." Which preacher told this guy this is Islam? That preacher should be in jail with him.

Do the cowardly jihadis who recruit suicide bombers really think that they will force the US Army and British troops out of Iraq by killing hundreds of innocent Iraqis? US troops now have bases and operate in Iraq but also from Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Oman.

The only accomplishment of jihadis is that now they have aroused the great "Western Tiger". There was a time when the United States and Europe welcomed Arab and Muslim immigrants, visitors and students, with open arms. London even allowed all dissidents escaping their countries to preach against those countries under the guise of political refugees.

Well, that is all over now. Time has become for the big Western vengeance.

Visas for Arab and Muslim young men will be impossible to get for the United States and Western Europe. Those working there will be expelled if they are illegal, and harassed even if their papers are in order.

Airlines will have to right to refuse boarding to passengers if their names even resemble names on a prohibited list on all flights heading to Europe and the United States.

What is more important to remember is this: When the West did unite after World War II to beat communism, the long Cold War began without pity. They took no prisoners. They all stood together, from the United States to Norway, from Britain to Spain, from Belgium to Switzerland. And they did bring down the biggest empire. Communism collapsed.

I fear those naïve Muslims who think that they are beating the West have now achieved their worst crime of all. The West is now going to war against not only Muslims, but also, sadly, Islam as a religion.

In this new cold and hot war, car bombs and suicide bombers here and there will be no match for the arsenal that those Westerners are putting together - an arsenal of laws, intelligence pooling, surveillance by satellites, armies of special forces and indeed, allies inside the Arab world who are tired of having their lives disrupted by demented so-called jihadis or those bearded preachers who, under the guise of preaching, do little to teach and much to ignite the fire, those who know little about Islam and nothing about humanity.

Youssef M. Ibrahim, a former Middle East correspondent for The New York Times and energy editor of the Wall Street Journal, is managing director of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group

Thursday, August 11, 2005

To bomb or not to bomb

Historians forever debate the morality of dropping the bomb on Japan. Here’s Japanese perspective. It might surprise you:


“We of the peace party were assisted by the atomic bomb in our endeavor to end the war,” Kido Koichi, one of Emperor Hirohito's closest aides, later recalled. Hisatsune Sakomizu, the chief cabinet secretary, called the bomb “a golden opportunity given by heaven for Japan to end the war.”



Some of the critics of ECB are whining about the word-count of what JD and I write on the subject. At the risk of being blunt, I think we need to interject a dose of candor here.

There is a very simple formula for generating repetitious, run-on debates that drag on and on with no end in sight. And that is when one side refuses to give straight answers to simple questions at the time the questions are first posed. If each question were dealt with directly as it comes up, one at a time, the questions wouldn’t pile up like a traffic accident on the LA freeway.

For example, anyone can see from scoping out Triablogue that I get questions from time to time. These do not generate open-ended debates for the simple reason that I answer a question when I’m asked a question, and I answer a question the way it is asked.

The reason that any attempt a rational dialogue with someone like Steve Camp quickly spirals out of control is because he either ducks all the questions he can’t answer or pretends to answer them when he is really caricaturing the opposing side, which forces the opposing side to take unnecessary time out to correct the caricature and repeat the question in a pedantically qualified form, at which point he either continues to rehash his old caricatures, endlessly paraphrasing and repackaging the same old, oft-discredited arguments, or else he diverts attention by trotting out a new set of charges with a new set of caricatures—on top of all the old unanswered questions and caricatures.

Then this same type of critic will throw up his hands and whine about how time-consuming this is and how it’s becoming a big waste of time. And I agree. It does become a waste of everyone’s time.

JD and I quite capable of being terse and to-the-point. We would be more than happy to take a short-cut. It’s the critics who choose to drive in circles and detour around the question, not us. We know better than anyone else that the shortest distance between two points is a straight-line, and we know this because we are the ones having to hunt down a circuitous quarry.

BTW, didn’t John MacArthur write a 200+ page book on the subject? What is 8 pages compared to over 200 pages?

And at the risk of having to repeat ourselves one more time, it was, remember, the critics of the C-bees who were castigating the C-bees for failing to take the time to make a Scriptural case for political activism and cobelligerence. When, however, someone rises to the challenge and calls their bluff, they just keep on bluffing and yawning and looking at their wristwatch.

Again, you have someone like Steve Camp, and I single him out, though he is hardly alone in this, because he is the worst offender in this regard, whereas Phil Johnson is stepping up to the plate—someone who raises objections, and then blows off anyone who addresses the objections he himself has raised.

I don’t find this elementary lack of ethical self-consistency either admirable or amusing. There is no excuse for such duplicity within the Christian community. Maybe it comes of being a celebrity. Certainly we see it often enough among the Hollywood glitterati who act like a law unto themselves, answerable to no one while they savage anyone and anything they disapprove of with the impunity of those who can write their own ticket—the Moores and Clooneys and Baldwins and Penns and Sarandons and Damons of the world.

As I’ve said before, the leading critics of ECB are high enough in the food change that they could surely arrange a personal powwow with the leaders of ECB. Have they made any effort to have a face-to-face talk with the Colson or Dobson or Land or Mohler? Have they ever even picked up the phone and spoken to one of the “Fab Four” directly over this issue? It doesn’t look very Christian to me. Have they no sense of honor? Why attack a straw man when you can talk man-to-man with the individual in question?

Can Armstrong change his spots?

As I’ve noted before, Dave Armstrong is running out of good material. So he’s presently padding his blog with filler on the “Protestant civil wars.”


Let's briefly note a few of these "worse than absurd" disagreements between fellow Protestants currently taking place on the Internet (obviously nothing has changed in 488 years: Protestants fought each other then and they continue to do so, and split and form new denominations). The following are not mere examples of gentlemanly disagreement: they are uncivil, acrimonious exchanges characterized by personal remarks at the expense of the other's honesty, sincerity, intelligence, basic knowledge, etc.

The discord largely derives from the bankruptcy of the notions of private judgment and sola Scriptura.


A few comments are in order:

i) To say that all these disagreements are “worse than absurd” simply begs the question.

ii) I try to avoid characterizing my opponent’s intelligence. I’ve never seen the point of that.

iii) On the other hand, a theological opponent may well be ignorant or dishonest. And it’s perfectly proper for me or others to point that out. It isn’t enough to “say” that your opponent is ignorant or dishonest. If you’re going to say so, you need to document the fact.

But since some theological opponents are, in fact, ignorant or dishonest, and since their ignorance or dishonesty skews their depiction of the opposing position, documenting their ignorance and dishonesty is simply a way of correcting their caricatures.

iv) As to a “gentlemen’s” code of honor, Dave doesn’t say what he means. He singles out my exchange with Holding. I’ll grant that Holding’s resort to barnyard language was certainly ungentlemanly, but that wasn’t emanating from my side of the exchange.

No doubt it’s more gentlemanly for bishops to conceal an underground culture of priestly pederasty than expose the unseemly details to public scrutiny. But some of us value candor above concealment.

v) There is no doubt that some of the acrimonious tone is due to sin. I’m a sinner. So are my fellow Reformed bloggers. Rumor even has it that Dave Armstrong is a sinner—but he would doubtless regard that innuendo as ungentlemanly.

vi) Speaking for myself, I’m actually pretty selective about my choice of targets. I’ve had precious little to say about fundamentalism or Pentecostalism or Lutheranism or Anglicanism or vanilla-gray Evangelicalism.

I have my disagreements with each of these, but they are not very high on my priority list, and so I’ve only said enough to explain where and why I disagree with each.

And there are a couple of reasons for this:

a) As long as a given theological tradition can furnish a credible profession of faith, I’m not, as a rule, prepared to expend a whole lot of ammo attacking it.

As long as it’s a sufficiently seaworthy vessel to get most of its passengers safely into heaven, I have better things to do with my time than shoot it up and bring a lifeboat alongside.

b) I choose, instead, to concentrate my fire on those doctrinal deviations that are either closest to my end of the theological spectrum or the farthest way.

Whatever is good in the mediating options is good because of what they share in common witht the doctrines of grace.

And whatever is bad is bad because of some they have in common with the more extreme deviations--and in commenting on the extremes, I implicitly comment on what’s wrong with the more moderate options.

c) I critique aberrations of Reformed theology because those are attacking the benchmark of orthodox doctrine. And once we lose the yardstick, we lose the capacity to measure any degree of declension—be it wide or narrow--from sound doctrine.

d) I critique Christian heresies because, like juvenile delinquents, they turn the signpost so that it no longer points in the right direction, but rather, directs the driver to a washed-out bridge.

vii) Dave attributes this discord to the Protestant rule of faith. That’s is a half-truth:

a) It is true that freedom of dissent issues in dissent. Mind you, the Catholic rule of faith did nothing to hinder dissent. The Church of Rome never relied on its rule of faith to ensure doctrinal conformity. Rather, it relied on the State or the Inquisition to enforce outward conformity. Is dear old Dave waxing nostalgic for the rack, the Iron Maiden, the thumbscrews and scarpines?

b) Freedom of dissent doesn’t initiate dissent, but merely exposes the fault-lines which were there along, but plastered over by coercive conformism.

c) Freedom is a good thing. Division is a good thing. For if everyone is made a member the same church, then the reprobate and unregenerate dilute the sanctity of the church.

Freedom of dissent enables the faithful to separate from the faithless and form a true community of faith.

c) There were dozens of Jewish sects in 1C Palestine. Yet the old covenant community was far more regulated than the new covenant community. But if God did nothing under the terms of the Old Covenant to hinder such diversity, then the a priori insistence that God would never countenance the Protestant rule of faith is flatly opposed to divine precedent.

d) As a practical matter, Catholicism tolerates any amount of private dissent and informal diversity as long as it doesn’t go public and directly challenge the authority of the Magisterium.

So the only unity that Catholicism really cares about is institutional unity; not a unity of faith—not a common bond of belief--but unity in the externalities of faith: of fellowship without faith.

Dying trees often look healthy enough on the outside until a windstorm snaps them in two and you can see the hollow, rotten interior. That may be Dave’s ideal, but it’s hardly my own. I prefer a vigorous variety of seedlings and samplings to one big dead tree—leafy on the outside, but worm-eaten from within.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Peace Plan

Urban legend attributes this to Robin Williams. Apocryphal or not, I hope it makes it into the GOP platform in time for the 08 election cycle.


Leave it to Robin Williams to come up with the perfect plan... what we
need now is for our UN Ambassador to stand up and repeat this message.

Robin Williams' plan...(Hard to argue with this logic!)

I see a lot of people yelling for peace but I have not heard of a plan
for peace. So, here's one plan:

1) The US will apologize to the world for our "interference" in their
affairs, past & present. We will promise never to "interfere" again.

2) We will withdraw our troops from all over the world, starting with
Germany, South Korea and the Philippines. They don't want us there. We
would station troops at our borders. No more sneaking through holes in
the fence.

3) All illegal aliens have 90 days to get their affairs together and
leave. We'll give them a free trip home. After 90 days the remainder
will be gathered up and deported immediately, regardless of who or where
they are. France would welcome them.

4) All future visitors will be thoroughly checked and limited to 90 day
visits unless given a special permit. No one from a terrorist nation
would be allowed in. If you don't like it there, change it yourself,
don't hide here. Asylum would not ever be available to anyone. We don't
need any more cab drivers.

5) No "students" over age 21. The older ones are the bombers. If they
don't attend classes, they get a "D" and it's back home, baby.

6) The US will make a strong effort to become self sufficient energy
wise. This will include developing non polluting sources of energy but
will require a temporary drilling of oil in the Alaskan wilderness. The
caribou will have to cope for a while.

7) Offer Saudi Arabia and other oil producing countries $10 a barrel for
their oil. If they don't like it, we go someplace else.

8) If there is a famine or other natural catastrophe in the world, we
will not "interfere". They can pray to Allah or whomever, for seeds,
rain, cement or whatever they need. Besides, most of what we give them
gets "lost" or is taken by their army. The people who need it most get
very little, anyway.

9) Ship the UN Headquarters to an island some place. We don't need the
spies and fair weather friends here. Besides, it would make a good
homeless shelter or lockup for illegal aliens.

9b) Use the buildings as replacement for the twin towers.

10) All Americans must go to charm and beauty school. That way, no one
can call us "Ugly Americans" any longer. Now, ain't that a winner of a
plan. "The Statue of Liberty is no longer saying 'Give me your poor, your
tired, your huddled masses.' She's got a baseball bat and she's yelling,
'You want a piece of me?"


Loaded dice-2


As to epistemology, I am not sure as to what the problem is supposed to be. I grant that in cases of say Descartes' evil demon, the god of Calvinism (is there a difference?) or other covert controllers of exceeding power that the subject in question either can’t or probably can’t, find out that their alternative possibilities have been counter-factually and covertly eliminated. So what? The only thing of significance that appears to follow is that the agent doesn’t know what they took themselves to know and that is hardly a big deal. What we need is an argument to show that such a situation is analogous to the situation we are fact in and this is an argument that Hays doesn’t suggest let alone give.


As to whether the God of Calvinism is an evil demon, I can think of a much better example of the demonic myself. And that is when a lost sinner, in his prideful defiance and humanistic conceit, presumes to spit in the face of sovereign grace.

The big deal is that if the argument from experience is a leading argument for LFW, and if, in fact, the “experience of freedom” is consistent with the lack of freedom, then that undermines the case for LFW.

To say that “what we need is an argument to show that such a situation is analogous to the situation we are fact in,” completely misses the point: there very nature of the thought-experiment is such that no evidence (argument from experience) could either prove or disprove that we find ourselves in an analogous situation.


Furthermore, even if we were in such a case and all our actions were predetermined by God, how would say a professing Calvinist be in a position to know that they were elect or had genuine faith? To appeal to self authentication or an inner witness bakes no bread since one could be determined to think that they had the experience of self authenticating faith or an inner witness without in fact having it. How could the professing Calvinist tell the difference? How could they find out if God had determined them to have genuine or spurious faith and hence a reprobate?


To begin with, if this is a problem, it is not a problem distinctive to Calvinism. Except for outright antinomians (e.g., Ryrie, Kendall, Hodges), most theological traditions do admit a distinction between true and nominal believers. Hence, it is possible under almost alternative to Calvinism for a nominal believer to be spiritually self-deluded and nurse a false assurance of salvation.

Secondly, the God of Biblical Calvinism is the same God who has also revealed Biblical grounds for the assurance of salvation. God is not conferring the same experience on elect and reprobate alike.

For a practical discussion of assurance, cf. P Helm, The Beginnings (Banner of Truth 1986).

Thirdly, the argument for predestination and providence, unlike the argument for LFW, is not an argument from experience, but an argument from revelation. Hence, the two positions do not enjoy epistemic parity.


As to who has to show what in the theological realm the burden seems born by the Calvinist just as equally as the Libertarian. I admit that if there is such a controlling deity then it is hard to see how there could be any epistemological basis for thinking that we had libertarian freedom. But is there such a deity? Has Hays shown that there is? Moreover, as to what could serve as theological evidence for Libertarian freedom I think there is a strong case to be made from the Biblical corpus for it. In a nutshell God has libertarian freedom and we are made in God’s image and therefore enjoy a measure of his kind of freedom. The same language that is employed concerning God’s choices is generally employed with respect to human and angelic choices plausibly giving us grounds for thinking that the freedom is at least of the same kind even if not of the same measure or degree. To deny that such language implies libertarian freedom to humans by the same token denies it to God contradicting every major Christian theological traditon, Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox.


To begin with, the exegetical case for Calvinism has been made repeatedly. There’s a lot of material on that subject at Triablogue itself.

In addition, Perry’s argument for LFW is a classic illustration of all that’s wrong with his theological method. He seizes on a Biblical category (the imago Dei), but doesn’t make any effort to exegete the Biblical category in context. Instead, he uses the Biblical category as a cipher to plug in a totally extraneous concept.

Why appeal to Scripture in the first place unless you allow Scripture to define its own usage? If Scripture is a source of knowledge, then when you appeal to a Biblical category, you need to exegete the category so that it means what it meant in the original source.

Here’s an example of the right and wrong way to interpret the key term:


There is a long history of efforts to understand “the image of God” as an aspect or function in humans that sets them off from other creatures and in terms of which they are “like God.” Depending on philosophical and theological predispositions, the image was seen in such things as human ‘reason” or, by the Reformers, in “true righteousness and holiness.”

According to Clines, however, humanity is [God’s] representative and agent here on earth. The expression “likeness” guarantees that humans will be a faithful and adequate representative of God on earth. Humans, thus, embody “God’s lordship over the lower orders of creation.”

Gen 1;26b expresses the purpose or goal of creating humans in the image of God…The meaning of the image, thus, does not lie in the mere terms used, but in Israel’s, or more precisely, the priestly tradition’s, understanding of representative kingship.

New International Dictionary of OT Theology & Exegesis, 4:644-45.


Moving ahead:


Moreover, the Libertarian seems to be able to argue that since determinism would render any knowledge claim, let alone a claim about having freedom so problematic, that it is a reason to think that determinism is false since the knowledge we have isn’t that problematic to attain.


Needless to say, it doesn’t render “any” knowledge claim problematic, but only a knowledge claim for LFW based on the argument from experience.


Hays then moves to construct something like an argument against Libertarianism by claiming that Libertarianism implies the same kinds of absurdities as “retrocausation.” Without reproducing Hays comments here I don’t think he is right. Libertarians can and do quite easily agree with the majority of philosophers today that time travel is impossible and that the past is fixed and hence accidentally necessary. (For a helpful discussion of accidental necessity see ) Since the past is fixed time travel is impossible.


Frankly, this objection is pretty obtuse. After all, my argument was explicitly predicated on the impossibility of time-travel. This is what I said:


Finally, I’d like to raise another objection to LFW. Since we’ve all grown up on SF, we’re all familiar with the paradoxes of time-travel. And this is one reason to believe that time travel and retrocausation are impossible.


And I was extending that impossibility to render LFW equally impossible. Perry acts as though the impossibility of time-travel is inconsistent with my argument when, in fact, it’s a presupposition of my argument. And I’m the one who’s confused?


Second, on Libertarianism it is false that if you replayed the past you would alter the future. On Libertarianism it is possible to alter the future but it is not necessary that given the same past circumstances an agent will do otherwise but only that they could do otherwise or at least will to do otherwise. It is important to keep in mind that Libertarians are minimally committed to the idea that the agent could will to do otherwise regardless of the success of those volitional acts, that is regardless of whether I do in fact do otherwise. It doesn’t follow that because an agent is free to do otherwise given the same past circumstances prior to some volition that they will do otherwise. So it is possible that if we could replay the past a million times prior to Jones choosing A as opposed to B that for every time that Jones chooses A. This doesn’t imply that the past determines Jones choosing A but only that the past isn’t causally sufficient to explain Jones’ choice. It might be that Jones always has good reasons to choose A and never has (because say, there aren’t any) good reasons to choose B. Hays seems to be confusing “could have done otherwise” with “would have done otherwise” and conceptually these are not identical. It is possible that Jones could have chosen B some of the times but it doesn’t follow that since Jones had the power to do otherwise that as Hays writes, “If LFW were true, and you kept replicating the past, then, of necessity, the same agent would do otherwise in the same situation. If he really could do otherwise, and you keep giving him enough chances to do otherwise, he would do otherwise—sooner or later.” If Jones has libertarian freedom, he doesn’t do anything, A or otherwise “of necessity.” Hays has adeptly created a strawman.


Yes, you might say that it is just barely possible that if you replay the scenario a million times, a libertarian agent will make the very same choice a million times. It is also just barely possible that a million or a million-million libertarian agents will make the very same choice given a million replays.

Likewise, it is possible that the die will come up sixes a million times in a row. Likewise, it is possible that a royal flush will be dealt a million times in a row. Likewise, it is possible that a million different gamblers will be dealt a royal flush a millions times in a row.

But if beginner’s luck were to turn into a winning streak a million times in a row, and if Perry were the proprietor of the Casino, I don’t think that Perry would be very impressed if the gambler were to appeal to the freedom of future contingents. The casino would go broke in a hurry of the proprietor shared the libertarian sentiments of the gambler.

A form of indeterminism which invariably yields the very same result looks suspiciously like a “hidden variables” theory of indeterminism to me.

Loaded dice-1

Perry Robinson has chosen to comment on a little essay of mine.


The first general problem is in the definitions that Hays provides. He says that if libertarian free will existed then there are only three logical possibilities: Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, and Indeterminism. As I make clear if libertarian freedom existed the first two options are logically impossible.


Going back and reviewing my original piece, I can see now how Perry was thrown off by my elliptical syntax. I was using a chiasmic (A-B-A) style of argument--such as Paul uses in Rom 5:12-19 (A: 12>B: 13-14>A: 15-19)--where I first state the specific option I’m most concerned with, then quickly shift to a general overview of the alternatives, of which that is one, in order to place it in a larger context, then, after this parenthetical aside, go back to the specific option.

So I’m sorry that my abbreviated syntax left him confused on this particular point. Many connections are so obvious to a writer that he assumes things which are obvious to himself, but not necessarily as obvious to the reader.


Hays attempts to pick out the concept of Hard Determinism by saying that it is the idea that “We are not free to do otherwise even if we wanted to do otherwise.”

This isn’t the idea of Hard Determinism. Hard Determinism put forward by the likes of Derek Pereboom is in part the idea that Determinism is true and Libertarianism is false. If Libertarianism is false, then there cannot be libertarian free will. Hard Determinism is furthermore the idea that since determinism is true we have to modify our ascriptions of freedom and moral praise/blame and moral responsibility accordingly since our everyday or pre-theoretical notions of moral responsibility and freedom are not compatible with determinism. Consequently it is hardly informative to say as Hays does that Hard Determinism is compatible with the idea that freedom is an illusion since that is exactly what the position maintains. Hays is clearly confused as to what is Hard Determinism.


Actually, Perry is the one who is pretty clearly befuddled here. I was offering some thumbnail definitions. For Perry to say that hard determinism is (in part) the idea that determinism is true and libertarianism is false, is hardly a definition of the operative terms. Indeed, that fails to define either term. Rather, it’s simply an illustration of the excluded middle: if one is true, the other is false. Perry is substituting a consequence for a definition, as if that were any alternative to what I said.

The same applies to making adjustments in our ethical outlook if hard determinism is true. That, again, is not a definition of hard determinism, but a possible consequence.

In addition, it is highly germane to the case for LFW if LFW could be illusory, for the argument from experience is a leading argument for LFW. As one of the major proponents of LFW has put it:


One reason, certainly a weighty one for many libertarians, lies in the very experience of choice…this experience seems to carry with it the strong conviction that the various alternatives are indeed without our power—that there is nothing at all which prevents us from choosing one way or the other…I would maintain that the intuitive conviction of freedom, sustained as it is by the occurrence of choices in which we seem to determine our own future, is one that we are entitled to take seriously and to treat with great respect as we formulate our answer to the question of freedom and necessity.

W. Hasker, Metaphysics (IVP 1983), 48.


How am I confused when, in the course of defining a position, I state “exactly what the position maintains”? Perry has a very eccentric notion of what it means to define a term.

This may be because he is committing the word=concept fallacy, as if the mere definition of a word were inclusive of the whole system of thought which the word is being used to designate. That confuses a dictionary with an encyclopedia. Surely it is possible to define General Relativity without having to explain all of the consequences and supply the mathematical formalisms.


He glosses Soft Determinism as “We are not free to do otherwise even if we wanted to do otherwise.” The problem is that this is not Soft Determinism. Soft Determinism is the idea that determinism is true, we have freedom and determinism is logically compatible with freedom where such freedom does not include being the ultimate source or terminus of one’s actions and having alternative possibilities. Soft Determinism excludes even “wanting” to do otherwise since it excludes any form of alternative possibilities simpliciter. Alternative possibilities are the exclusive domain of Libertarianism.


The first problem is that he has mismatched my terms and definitions. This is what I actually said:


a) Hard determinism: We are not free to do otherwise even if we wanted to do otherwise.

b) Soft determinism: We are free to do otherwise if we want to do otherwise—although we are not free to want to do otherwise.


Somehow he manages to get the definitions mixed up so that he attribute my definition of hard determinism to soft determinism. And I’m the one who’s confused?

He then says that “soft determinism excludes even ‘wanting’ to do otherwise since it excludes any form of alternative possibilities simpliciter,” is if that were diametrically opposed to my definition, when it looks more like a paraphrase of my original definition.

I’d add, though, that to say that soft determinism “excludes any form of alternative possibilities simpliciter,” is just that—simple-minded. All that Perry has done here is to beg the question in favor of LFW.

It is perfectly coherent to conditionalize alternative possibilities: X could do otherwise if he wanted to do otherwise.

This is necessary to distinguish soft determinism from hard determinism.


As to Indeterminism Hays interprets it as “We are free to want to do otherwise.” Here again he seems to miss the mark. Indeterminism isn’t a thesis about desires or willing at all because it isn’t a thesis about agency. Indeterminism like determinism is a thesis regarding causation.


As I already explained in the second installment of my essay, “Is God the author of sin?”--I regard compatibilism as a special-case of determinism, and incompatibilism as a special-case of indeterminism. We’re dealing here with a set/subset relation.

Perry then sets up a remarkably tendentious antithesis between volition and causation, as if agents can’t be causes.


To his credit Hays correctly notes that the Westminster Confession opts for a kind of Soft Determinism but this is hardly news.


When Perry can’t be substantive, he can always be petty. It is certainly pertinent to my purposes to locate the Westminster Confession along the determinist/indeterminist continuum.

For a champion of Byzantine theology, it is odd that Perry judges the value of a position by its newsworthiness.


To be thorough I must note that off the bat that Frankfurt cases are not cases of Hard Determinism… Frankfurt argues that the subject appears to be free and to be morally responsible for choosing A even though he could not have done otherwise… Others, like Kane and Widerker, have argued that Frankfurt cases either presuppose determinism since the prior sign that tips the controller off as to what the subject is going to do can only indicate what the subject is going to do if it is a causally sufficient condition for the subject’s action. If there is no antecedently sufficient prior sign, then the controller can’t preempt the subject’s choice.


Perry begins with a denial that Frankfurt-cases are cases of hard determinism, but then proceeds to lay out some contrary interpretations. So how does that undercut my argument?

In the meantime, Perry disregards my explicit shift from the stronger ontological thesis of determinism to the weaker epistemic thesis of whether the agent is in position to tell, from experience, if he enjoys LFW.

Hard determinism doesn’t have to be true to make my case. Soft determinism doesn’t’ have to be true to prove my case. Indeterminism could be true, and my case would remain.

For the point raised by the Frankfurt-case is the “possibility” that an agent is under the illusion of LFW when, in fact, is does not enjoy LFW.

I spelled that out in the very passage which Perry quotes verbatim:


Frankfurt-cases are generally deployed to show that LFW is not a necessary condition of moral responsibility. But aside from their relevance to the ethical issues raised in the debate between compatibilism and incompatibilism, they are also relevant to the epistemic question of what would count as evidence for LFW, were it true.

The problem which Frankfurt-cases pose for libertarians is that the subject of the experiment believes himself to be free, even though he isn’t. There is nothing in his experience to falsify his belief that he is other than free, even though his belief is false. On this view, not only is hard determinism compatible with moral responsibility, it is also compatible with the illusion LFW. It is not my purpose to make a case for hard determinism. Rather, I’m arguing from the greater to the lesser. If the indeterminist can’t even disprove hard determinism, he can scarcely disprove soft determinism. The problem is that an agent is in no position to know, from the inside out, whether his actions are determined by an external source.


Moving right along:


Is the problem for the subject in Frankfurt cases that he believes himself to be free but isn’t? If he isn’t free, then this certainly not what Frankfurt aimed to show. Rather Frankfurt aimed to show that the subject was free even though he could not have done otherwise. Here Hays gets it wrong. (This is the polite way of saying that he can't seem to accurately reproduce the ideas of others reliably.) Moreover, since Frankfurt cases were designed to help grasp a concept in metaphysics, the subject’s knowledge or lack thereof plays little or no explanatory role as to whether libertarian freedom is a coherent concept or alternative possibilities are necessary for free will or what the concept of freedom is.


To begin with, Perry has already documented the fact that Frankfurt-cases are emendable to more than one interpretation, including determinism.

Second, there is obviously a difference between accurately reproducing an “idea” and reproducing the “aim” of the idea. Perry is confounding the substance of a position with a particular application.

In Perry’s blinkered outlook, if a thought-experiment was designed to illustrate one thing, then it’s impermissible to creatively adapt that thought-experiment to illustrate anything else.

As such, Perry never bothers to interact with the logic of my own argument. He acts like a scribe rather than a philosopher.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

The cultural mandate

For some odd reason, Camp has chosen to align himself with the Klineans. He has a link to Chad Bresson’s blog, which has, in turn, multiple links to other Klinean shrines.

Apparently Mr. Camp is one of those individuals who judges a book by its cover, for had he bothered to crack open the book and look inside, he’d have seen that even Meredith Kline upholds the cultural mandate. Contrary to Kline, Camp is confounding cult with culture by turning everyday into Sunday.


Culture: that aspect of life pertaining to all of life (horizontal). Culture is larger than literature and the fine arts. It refers to all areas of life other than cult: man's kingly duties as summarized in the dominion mandate (Gen 1:26, 28). Family, society, technology, civic life, politics, architecture, medicine, etc., are part of culture. What we do during the other six days of the week is primarily cultural activity (except for prayer, etc.).


Monday, August 08, 2005

The Red Romanist

Jonathan Prejean has offered a characteristically thoughtful reply to my comments.

Basically, he has chosen, instead of a blow-by-blow reply, to present a more global and presuppositional counter-argument. That’s entirely legitimate.

Before I dive it, I wish to make a preliminary observation. Prejean, at least in his dealings with me, has a disagreeable habit of being agreeable, which makes it harder for me to disagree with him. I hope that in the future he will make a good faith effort to be more offensive and unpleasant, as that shall greatly simplify my own task.


Which brings me exactly to the current controversy. Certain people of an Evangelical persuasion have recently declared Catholicism "unhistorical" for its inclusion of certain dogmas without independent positive historical corroboration. In doing so, they have exactly exceeded the proper boundaries of what can be considered historical. Moreover, they have, in my opinion, relied on some highly dubious historical conclusions in making the judgment that their own views are historical. This is the content of my objection.


I don’t spend much time surfing the web. I’m more bookish than geeky. So I’m not in a position to venture a general comment on how various unnamed evangelical epologists define and apply the historical method.

The only individual I’m in any position to comment on at this juncture is Jason. At the end of this little essay I’ve posted some excerpts from his exchange with Prejean.

As I construe his statements, Jason distinguishes between defensive and offensive apologetics. Under defensive apologetics he accords a valid place for the argument from experience. However, this argument is only useful to insiders, not outsiders—since, by definition, an unbeliever is not privy to a believer’s experience of providence and grace. We might dub this existential evidence.

Under offensive apologetics, he distinguishes between internal and external lines of evidence. Both are forms of historical evidence, in contradistinction to existential evidence.

I’m retooling some of my own categories to classify his distinctions, and I realize that he isn’t attempting to present an exacting or exhaustive model of his criteria, but even so I think that he has already offered us a highly inflected paradigm of the various forms and rules of evidence. So I don’t recognize his own position in Prejean’s strictures, however applicable they may be to others.

In addition, I don’t see Jason or myself imposing a standard of independent historical corroboration on Catholic theological method. Rather, I see Jason and myself judging Catholicism by its own pattern and policy of appeal to historical evidence—at least up until the theory of development became official.

Of course, Prejean will have more to say about that very issue as we proceed. So let us proceed.


Properly, "historical" ought to be predicated of the appropriate application of techniques against anachronism, which forbids the inclusion of concepts like "authority" at all, as Hays no doubt recognizes. And if one sticks to the "historical," then as Hays wisely notes, it is a shield and not a sword. It can defend against historical objections on the probabilistic terms the opponent offers, but it cannot in and of itself "prove" the case.


Not directly, no. But that leaves open the question of whether it’s possible for historical evidence to bear on the establishment of an authority-source. And once that authority source is thereby established, it is in a position to authorize other truths for which direct historical evidence is wanting. So we should not exclude the possibility of a second-order authority-source contingent on a first-order historical source.


I would disagree only in that I don't believe that it is a requirement for anyone to have compelling reason for the source of information, but rather, one needs only a defensible position that does not deny the veracity of historical methods (at least if one wishes to be "historical").


As a general proposition, I agree. For, as a practical matter, it is not possible to justify most of our beliefs. They are too trivial and too numerous.

However, there is an obligation to prioritize some of our beliefs so that we discharge our primary duties to God and man. So, to the best of our abilities—which varies greatly from one individual to the next—it is incumbent upon us to have well-warranted beliefs in fundamental matters of the faith where we are answerable to God for our response to revealed truth.


Historical methods do not speak to how God, Who commits anachronism simply by knowing the end from the beginning, acts in human history.


That’s an arresting way of putting things. However, in God’s self-revelation there is, of necessary, a measure of divine accommodation whereby God makes himself known in ways knowable to man.


Because of the Catholic theology of revelation, it is entirely fair to say that a later dogma was truly expressed in what was used to derive that dogma (in that God put that objective bit of revelation in knowing that it would be expounded in this manner later). It cannot be called anachronism because, strictly speaking, it is not a historical question. Thus, when a Pope says that there was "unanimous consent of the Fathers" or that something was "clearly taught in Scripture," he means it exactly in hindsight rather than prospectively, because the objective content of revelation is defined by the development it undergoes later. The move of the Church to a certain belief is evidence of its earlier content, not in the subjective minds of the people holding the dogma, but objectively. So when someone speaks of holding the Catholic "to his own standards," it must be recognized that those standards cannot be interpreted according to the historical methods of an external system. Catholicism and Orthodoxy have always "read back" later formulations into the nascent seeds of a dogma, so if the person can correctly be said to have held the belief that led to the development of the dogma (even if there is no evidence that he foresaw its use in this way), he is viewed to have held the belief in the dogma.

From the Evangelical perspective, that is entirely backward, but it is important to recognize that this comes from a reversed priority in historical determinations. The Catholic (and Orthodox) method is to reason from the existence of Christians to everything else; the Evangelical method is exactly reversed. We begin by looking at the existence of people who profess belief in the risen Christ, identify common themes of their practice including their methods of developing dogma, and reason therefrom to the dogmas themselves. In other words, we posit the actual existence of a Church even prior to a philosophy of revelation or theology, because we see the effectiveness of revelation as a necessary element of any philosophy of divine revelation. Consequently, the absolute universality of the three-fold apostolic succession and the Eucharist would make it highly probable that only churches having these things could even possibly be Christian. Formally speaking, then, evidence from Scripture is only evidence of self-consistency, not external evidence used to prove the belief (and we believe that this is exactly how Scriptural evidence was used in the patristic method). Although technically speaking, this means that one could conceivably "disprove" the requirement of apostolic succession, as a practical matter, the evidence is so overwhelming that it would be impossible to do so (hence, the historical defensibility of Catholicism and Orthodoxy against any competing claims). Later developments are then admissible so long as they take place within this communion of apostolic succession reasoning communally from sources to the conclusion.

Evangelicals, on the other hand, identify Christians by isolating a number of Christian beliefs (defined as the most historically/exegetically probable beliefs based on the textual evidence of the NT) and then judging everything and everyone by the standards of those beliefs.


This brings us to the nub of the issue. And I’d just say the following by way of reply:

i) Prejean seems to be saying that Catholics and Protestants operate with incommensurable rules of evidence. If so, then it’s nonsensical of him to charge the evangelical epologist with a hypocritical double-standard, for by his own admission no neutral or uniform standard is even available.

ii) A problem that I and many others have with modern Catholicism isn’t merely that Catholicism is inconsistent with its own rules of evidence; rather, our problem is that Catholicism changed its own rules of evidence when it foresaw checkmate a few moves deep.

Modern Catholicism may well be consistent with the dynamic theory of tradition. But one problem lies in the fact that the dynamic theory of tradition is not the traditional theory of tradition.

So, from my side of the board, the Catholic is acting like a chess player who hadn’t lost, but it suddenly dawned on him that he could no longer win given the remaining pieces in their current configuration. So he stops the clock. Then he moves some of his own pieces around, relocating them at strategic positions, and replaces a few of the captured pieces for good measure.

In the meantime, all my pieces remain where they were. After that he restarts the clock as if nothing had happened, and looks in askance at my raised eyebrow.

And this is not just an outsider’s impression of what’s going on. Here’s an account in the words of Benedict XVI. I’ve quoted this before, but it bears repeating:


Before Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was defined, all theological faculties in the world were consulted for their opinion. Our teachers’ answer was emphatically negative. What here became evidenced was the one-sidedness, not only of the historical, but also f the historicist method in theology. “Tradition” was identified with what could be proved on the basis of texts. Altaner, the patrologist from Wurzburg…had proven in a scientifically persuasive manner that the doctrine of Mary’s bodily Assumption into heaven was unknown before the 5C; this doctrine, therefore, he argued, could not belong to the “apostolic tradition. And this was his conclusion, which my teachers at Munich shared. This argument is compelling if you understand “tradition” strictly as the handing down of fixed formulas and texts. This was the position that our teachers represented. But if you conceive of “tradition” as the living process…

J. Ratzinger, Milestones (Ignatius 1997), 58-59.


Here we have a paradigm-shift from a static to a dynamic theory of tradition. The rules of the game have been unilaterally revised in the middle of the play. The ruler has turned to rubber, to stretch or contract as need be.

Dropping the metaphor, what has occurred here is that a principle of immanental revelation (from within or from below—vox populi=vox dei) has supplanted the traditional principle of transcendental revelation (from above).

And this also reflects a metaphysical shift from the essentialist categories of Thomism to something more fluent—occurrents over continuents or substances.

It is no accident that Newman was a Victorian churchman while Rahner was a close student of Hegel and—literally—of Heidegger.

iii) It is hard to differentiate Prejean’s position from the perfectly vicious principle that whatever is, is right. How is it possible, on his view, to ever challenge the status quote? Decadence becomes its own best justification.

iv) I don’t think any intelligent evangelical has a problem with the progress of dogma in the sense of a logical inference from a true premise. And if that were the process if view, it would be possible to see the process in reverse, after the fact.

But what we see is something much looser than that. To begin with, what we often see is a false premise. But let’s waive that for the time being.

Assuming the premise to be true, what we often see is, at best, a development which is merely consistent with the premise, but not entailed by the premise. And at worst what we often see is a development in which the original premise is contradicted over time. So we don’t see it in hindsight.

v) Another problem with this open-ended, Hegelian dialectic is that you can only know the true dogma or its true interpretation at the tail-end of the historical process, and not during the course of church history. So we couldn’t see it in hindsight.

vi) Finally, and I don’t mean to be insulting about this, but when I read his defense of Catholicism, quoted above, I can’t help thinking of how Jesus and the apostles and the prophets used to challenge the corrupt religious establishment by direct appeal to the word of God, and how very convenient it would have been for the religious establishment to repel that appeal by the line of argument he is using to defend his own communion.

Indeed, the Pharisaical doctrine of the dual torah, commingling the written torah with the oral torah, was their version of living tradition. Religious history repeats itself because human nature is the same, and certain personality-types recur throughout the course of religious history in particular.


Jason said:


But what's being addressed here is apologetics, how we defend a system in public. In other words, we're addressing how we show the truth, not how we know it.

I didn't deny that more than apostolic authorship and textual accuracy would be involved in arriving at the conclusion of Biblical inerrancy. I'm not excluding philosophical considerations. I'm including historical considerations in areas where you've neglected them.

Keep in mind what I said earlier about the distinction between knowing and showing. God can lead people to a conviction about the inspiration of scripture without the sort of evidence mentioned above. But if we're going to attempt to show the inspiration of scripture in a public setting like this forum, what alternative would you suggest to the argumentation outlined above?

Again, if we have evidence for Jesus' reliability, and Jesus refers to the authority of His apostles, why would you deny that we have historical evidence for Matthew being authoritative? Are you denying that we have sufficient evidence for Jesus' reliability? Are you denying that we have sufficient evidence that Jesus referred to His apostles having authority?

You keep referring to "independent evidence", and I don't know what you mean by that term. Are you suggesting that all evidence for my conclusions must come from non-canonical sources, such as Josephus or Ignatius? If so, that's an absurd standard that I reject. External evidence is relevant, but so is internal evidence.

We have a lot of evidence for the inspiration of the Bible. If you're saying that we can't "prove" it in the sense of complete certainty, then I would ask what the relevance of that observation is. We can show that it's a probability that the Bible is inspired, and it makes no sense to reject a probability on the basis that it isn't a certainty.

Regarding "independent historical verification", I would repeat what I said earlier. External evidence isn't the only evidence we have. Internal evidence is relevant as well. When the apostle Paul refers to his own experiences seeing the risen Christ, for example, no historian will dismiss Paul's testimony just because it comes from Paul. We always consider the potential bad motives of a source, but we also consider their potential good motives. If the historical context in which Paul wrote, the nature of his arguments, what other people said about him, etc. suggest that he's credible, then we can accept his testimony on historical grounds. That's why most New Testament scholars accept facts such as Jesus' burial by Joseph of Arimathea and a group of His female followers finding His tomb empty, even though these facts aren't corroborated by a non-Christian source like Josephus or Tacitus.

Again, we have evidence for Jesus' reliability. We have evidence for Jesus' assigning authority to people like Matthew and Paul. Thus, we have reason to believe what people like Matthew and Paul taught. Even if somebody like Matthew hadn't been given apostolic authority by Jesus, we would still have good historical reasons for accepting his testimony about what Jesus said.

The subject we're discussing at this point is the inspiration of scripture. Since Jesus commented on that subject many times in the gospels, anybody who would want to argue that He didn't hold a high view of scripture would have to dismiss a large number of passages in those gospels. It's more likely that Jesus did hold such a high view of scripture. From a historical standpoint, the plausibility of Jesus holding such a high view of scripture is greater than the plausibility of Jesus not holding such a view.

The Bible is historical evidence. I don't know of any historian who would argue that we can't know anything about Paul from his writings, for example. Nor do I know of any historian who would argue that we must gather all of our historical information about Josephus from sources other than Josephus.


Mutually assured destruction

It looks like Prejean's favorite ploy is to lure some unsuspecting Evangelical onto his own turf by debating Nicene Christology, and refinements thereof, where he feels confident of his superior historical expertise. He's attempting to discredit his theological opponent by branding him a heretic.

This is, however, a suicide mission. For in order to brand most evangelicals as heretical, Prejean must also brand most of his fellow Catholics as heretical. I mean, you’ve got to wonder just how many of the Mexicans who mow his lawn and weed his garden happen to have read Wessel’s Cyril of Alexandria and the Nestorian Controversy.

Don't you suppose that most lay Catholics and not a few priests are heretics by his benchmark?

So he's using this neutrino bomb to kill off his Evangelical opponents—a WMD which happens to have the unfortunate side-effect of annihilating most-all of his fellow Catholics in the process. So he wins by making both sides lose.

No, that’s not quite correct, either. He only wins by making his own side lose. For a Protestant, the acid test of orthodoxy is not Nicene Christology, but Biblical Christology.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

The New Yorker: Fact


Do you have any thoughts in this article? Or anyone else

It purports backtracking by the likes of Behe and Dembski.

The New Yorker: Fact: "Biologists aren't alarmed by intelligent designÂ’s arrival in Dover and elsewhere because they have all sworn allegiance to atheistic materialism; theyÂ’re alarmed because intelligent design is junk science. Meanwhile, more than eighty per cent of Americans say that God either created human beings in their present form or guided their development. As a succession of intelligent-design proponents appeared before the Kansas State Board of Education earlier this month, it was possible to wonder whether the movementÂ’s scientific coherence was beside the point. Intelligent design has come this far by faith. "

Enloe's foot-in-mouth disease

Like time and tide, you can always count, without fail, on Tim Enloe sticking his foot in his mouth. And like solar eclipses, you can predict the conjunction with mathematical precision.

It occurs whenever Enloe is attempting to worm his way into the bosom of Rome by spitting on former friends and mentors—like one of those gangland rites of initiation in which you prove your loyalty to the homeboys by offing your own brother.

The latest exchange is the umpteenth rehash of his trademark lies about the grammatico-historical method, based not on any direct knowledge of the subject, but on his pomo hand-me-downs. No matter how often or by whom he’s corrected on this score, he continues to peddle the same falsehoods. The boy is a chronic liar.

It’s not that he has to take our word for it. Several individuals have pointed him to the relevant literature.

Then there’s this vintage specimen of Enloe’s third-hand historical extrapolations:


This is why it's so important to temper one's claims to "exegesis" of the "plain" Scriptures with some kind of intelligible and responsible understanding of the historical progression of ideas. Hodge's Common Sense Realism is not really all that far removed from Humean skepticism before it and 20th century positivism after it. That's a problem, John. It's a problem that Hodge didn't see, but that we can, and it is thus our responsibility not to follow him down that road, how ever much we respect him otherwise.


So what’s wrong with this statement? Three things:

i) One would very much like to see how, in some stepwise fashion, Enloe can show that Scottish Realism is an intellectual and historical antecedent to logical positivism.

ii) Scottish Realism doesn’t go back to Hume, but to Thomas Reid, who was a foe of Hume. Reid directly challenged the sense datum theory of perception which lay at the basis of Hume’s epistemology.

iii) Far from Charles Hodge being behind the curve, Hodge was ahead of the curve while young Mr. Enloe is way behind—for Thomas Reid has made a roaring comeback into the field of contemporary epistemology, viz. Alston, Chisholm De Bary, Lehrer, Pappas, Plantinga, Rowe, Wolsterstorff.

BTW, the PP is on a roll these days. Check it out:

The inerrancy of Scripture

Jonathan Prejean has said that a Protestant cannot establish the inerrancy of Scripture on an evidentiary basis alone.

Although his contention has immediate reference to the limits of the historical method, yet his objection is presumably broader than that; for were he to believe that a Protestant could establish the Protestant rule of faith, or elements thereof (e.g., inerrancy, sufficiency, perspicuity), consistent with Protestant criteria, Prejean would be Protestant rather than Catholic. At the very least, he’d be far less critical of the Protestant alternative.

So what, exactly, is the evangelical case for inerrancy? I don’t plan to offer a full-dress argument here, but just to present the steps of a multi-stage argument so that we have a clearer idea of what is being affirmed or denied.

In this brief essay I don’t presume speak as a representative of any particular position. Just as there are different versions of fundamental theology in Roman Catholicism, Evangelicals differ on issues of apologetic methodology.


i) The inerrancy of Scripture is implicit in the inspiration of Scripture. Given the divine identity of Scripture as God’s word, inerrancy is a necessary entailment thereof.

If God has spoken in Scripture—more precisely, if Scripture is God speaking, as the vehicle of divine self-revelation--then Scripture is inerrant.

ii) This follows from the nature and purpose of God in revealing his will to man. It assumes that God is truthful, that God’s purpose in revelation is to reveal the truth, that God is able to reveal the truth through the medium of human agents and human language.

iii) So, at this stage, an evangelical apologist would need to establish the self-witness of Scripture, as well as anterior assumptions regarding the nature of God and the purpose of revelation.

Among some of the treatments that cover the relevant bases, we have:

Frame, J. “Scripture Speaks For Itself,” in J. Montgomery, ed., God's Inerrant Word (Bethany Fellowship, 1974), 178-200.

_____The Doctrine of God (P&R 2002).

Turretin, F. Institutes of Elenctic Theology, Volume One (P&R 1992).

Warfield, B. Revelation & Inspiration, Works, Volume One (Baker 2003).

iv) None of this calls for any corroborative evidence, unless you believe that the existence of God must be established at this stage of the argument.

But while the existence of God is a metaphysical presupposition of the above, it is not an epistemic assumption, per se, for it is possible to argue either way: to argue from God to Scripture, or to argue from Scripture to God.

People have been converted to the faith just by reading the Bible alone, or by trying to prove the Bible, or even by trying to disprove the Bible. Which brings us to:


i) The next step is why we should believe any of this. And to that question there is no uniform answer, for different men are impressed by different types or lines of evidence. Here is one classic answer:


We may be moved and induced by the testimony of the church to an high and reverent esteem of the holy Scripture. And the heavenliness of the matter, the efficacy of the doctrine, the majesty of the style, the consent of all the parts, the scope of the only (which is, to give all glory to God), the full discovery it makes of the only way of man’s salvation, the many other incomparable excellencies, and the entire perfection thereof, are arguments whereby it doeth abundantly evidence itself to be the Word of God: yet notwithstanding, our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth and divine authority thereof, is from the inward work of the Hoy Spirit bearing witness by and with the Word in our hearts.

WCF 1:5. Cf. Calvin, Institutes 1.7.5.


ii) Notice that what we have here is a combination of internal and existential evidence. None of it depends on corroborative evidence.

And for many people, one or more of these reasons is reason enough. We could also add to this list.

3.A two-step option

i) Another popular defense is a two-step argument. The apologist will argue that there is sufficient historical evidence to establish the historical Christ, as described in Scripture. And this includes the NT witness to the divinity of Christ.

ii) Oftentimes, this phase of the argument will appeal to corroborative evidence, viz., archeology. I’m not sure if corroborative evidence is actually necessary to make this case. But that’s how it’s generally done.

iii) The next step will be to argue that, given the divinity of Christ, you can then upgrade the probable argument to a certain argument, for a divine Christ is in a perfect position to authorize the OT and preauthorize the NT.

4.What’s the alternative?

i) Let us keep in mind that the same question can be posed of Roman Catholicism. If a Catholic authorizes the Bible by appeal to the church, that only relocates the question, for the question then will be, “Why believe the Church?” “Why believe that your church is the true church?”

ii) This, in turn, becomes a question of what historical evidence will probilify the claims of Romanism or Orthodoxy or whatever.

iii) Since, moreover, Catholicism appeals to, and applies to itself, descriptions of the true church in Scripture, it is, to that degree, contingent on the prior veracity of Scripture, and not the other way round.

The Roman Church can only be the true church if it is true to the definition of the true church in Scripture, which presupposes the truth, not of Romanism, but of Scripture.

So Romanism must employ the Protestant rule of faith as a ladder to get reach Romanism in the first place.

5.Inerrancy & evidence

i) Corroborative evidence is used, not so much to establish the inerrancy of Scripture—except, indirectly, in the case of #2—as it is to defend the inerrancy of Scripture against historical objections.

ii) Such a defense is probabilistic in character, but then, the objections are probabilistic in character, so it’s answering the critic on his own level. There is no clear reason why a Christian apologist should be held to a higher standard than the critic. We don’t apply that double-standard to other fields of inquiry.