Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Catholic E-pologetic Methodology #3

This is a personal favorite of mine, of Catholic apologetics in action.

II Timothy 3:16-17, "All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for instruction, for training in righteousness, in order that the man of God might be complete, fully equipped for every good work."

James White: "But, finally, we remember Mr. Madrid's challenge to show him a verse that teaches sufficiency. Mr. Madrid, I would like to direct you to the Scriptural standard, "by the mouth of two or three witnesses shall a fact be established." I first refer you to Louw and Nida's Greek-English Lexicon, where we encounter the definition given for the semantic domain of ejxartivzw, I quote, 'To make someone completely adequate, or sufficient for something; to make adequate, to furnish completely, to cause to be fully qualified; adequacy." They translate our passage as, "completely qualified for every good deed.' While Louw and Nida give us two witnesses, I wish to direct you as well to the well-known scholarly resource by Fritz Reinecker and Cleon Rogers, entitled Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament. Here, we find the following, in regards to both terms, here in verse 17: 'a[rtios': fit, complete, capable, sufficient, i.e., able to meet all demands; ejxartivzw: completely outfitted, fully furnished, fully equipped, fully supplied.' "

Patrick Madrid: "Mr. White is resting his case on the say-so of a few Protestant Greek scholars. That to me is not an infallible source of authority, Mr. White, the Bible is. Now, I didn't mean to denigrate the Biblical language, and I'm sorry that you took it that way, when I said that your argument was irrelevant. What I meant was, that you can use all the Protestant Biblical scholars' citations that you want to show that a word means something, but, notice that the word "sufficient" came as the third or fourth definition, or the third or fourth meaning, that was assigned to this word. It was not the primary meaning. I am not going to debate what this Protestant Greek scholar may or may not have said. First of all, they're Protestant, so they're naturally going to give a spin to something that a Catholic scholar might see something different in. Now Mr. White might respond by saying that, "Well, Greek is Greek, Mr. Madrid, you can't argue on the basis of ideology or politics." I'm going to save that for some future point, simply because we don't have the time to go into what the Catholic scholars say on that issue. So I'm not going to go into that now."



Mike Burgess said...

Yeah, I like that one, too. Because the passage says that Scriptures are sufficient to equip the man of God for every good work. Sort of anti-sola fide, if you know what I mean. And what is that middle bit, "man of God," supposed to mean exactly? Using Scripture to interpret Scripture, of course. Where else does that phrase show up antecedently which could give us a clue to its meaning?

By the way, what do the myriad other Greek-English lexicons list as the meaning of the word in question? Why did White feel it was necessary to rely on those three witnesses? Are there more/better ones?


Kepha said...

LOL! Sorry, Mr. Burgess, I couldn't resist, but you just gave James another example to prove his point!

Mike Burgess said...

Well there you go then. After you get done laughing, be so kind as to answer a few questions for me.

Is being equipped to every good work equivalent to constituting the sole infallible rule of faith? If so, then do works contribute to your salvation? And if so, then are the works of faith different from the works of the Law? And if so then shouldn't you all be sort of quiet now?

Or, conversely, is being equipped for every good work not, in fact, about establishing the sole, infallible rule of faith? If not, then what does this passage have to do with proving sola scriptura?

Also, are you asserting that "man of God" in every scriptural antecedent, does not refer to named or unnamed prophets? Are all believers now to be understood to be prophets contra explicits divisions in Paul? Or are you insisting, contra every other Protestant apologist, that only Scripture can interpret Scripture and we can assume that Paul is using the term "man of God" in a totally new and universal way? Verification, please.

As regards my point about the lexical evidence White utilized, let me be more specific: why did he specifically cite them and not more well known ones?

Thanks in advance for your thoughtful reply. I eagerly await it.

Mike Burgess said...

I inadvertantly made an incorrect word choice; I meant to say "Or are you denying," rather than "Or are you insisting, etc." above. Sorry for the confusion I may have caused.

Matthew Bellisario said...

I was going to write a nice rebuttle for this nonsense, and then I thought that Haydock in his commentary said what I wanted to quite nicely.

All scripture divinely inspired is profitable to teach, to reprove, to correct, or admonish, to instruct others in justice, and in the ways of virtue, that thus he who is a man of God, a minister of the gospel, may be perfect and instructed unto every good work. But when our adversaries of the pretended reformation, undertake from these four verses to shew, first, that every ignorant man or woman is hereby warranted to read and put what construction his or her private spirit, or private judgment, suggests upon all places of the holy Scriptures; and secondly, that the Scriptures alone contain all truths which a Christian is bound to believe; or at least, that the Scriptures teach him all things necessary to salvation, without regard to the interpretation and authority of the Catholic Church: I may at least say (without examining at present any other pretended grounds of these assertions) that these consequences are very remote from the text and sense of St. Paul in this place. As to the first, does this follow; the Scriptures must be read by Timothy, a priest, a bishop, a man of God, a minister of the gospel, whose office it is to instruct and convert others, therefore they are proper to be read and expounded by every ignorant man or woman? Does not St. Paul say elsewhere, (2 Corinthians ii. 17.) that many adulterate and corrupt the word of God? does not St. Peter tell us also, (2 Peter iii. 16.) that in St. Paul's epistles are some things....which the unlearned and unstable wrest, as also the other scriptures, to their own perdition? See the preface to [the Gospel of] St. John, where reasons are brought for which it was requisite that the Church should put some restraint to the abuse which the ignorant made of reading the Scriptures in vulgar tongues. As to the second consequence, does it follow: every Scripture divinely inspired is profitable for St. Timothy, for a priest, a bishop, a man of God, a minister and preacher of the gospel, to teach and instruct, and conduce to bring both him and others to salvation; therefore they contain all things that a Christian need to believe? &c. Is not every Christian bound to believe that the books in the canon of the New and Old Testament are of divine authority, as in particular these two epistles of St. Paul to Timothy? Where does the Scripture assure us of this? But of this elsewhere. (Witham) --- Every part of divine Scripture is certainly profitable for all these ends. But if we would have the whole rule of Christian faith and practice, we must not be content with those Scriptures which Timothy knew from his infancy, (that is, with the Old Testament alone) nor yet with the New Testament, without taking along with it the traditions of the apostles and the interpretation of the Church, to which the apostles delivered both the book and the true meaning of it. (Challoner)

Matthew Bellisario said...

James White also made himself look real bad when he came up with his latest rant on the Church Fathers and how they denied the Deuterocanonical books as Scripture. It is a well known fact even by Protestant scholars that all of the Early Fathers of the first 400 years or so of the Church believed the Deuterocanonical books to Sacred Scripture and quoted them as such. Actually he is one of the only people I have seen that tried to take those passages of the Church Fathers and form this argument from them. It is obvious he did not read these Father's writings in their entirety, otherwise he never would have made those videos for everyone to see. If he would have read any of their writings instead of cutting and pasting them, he would have seen everyone of those Fathers referring to those books as Sacred Scripture. For more details you can visit my website and read the first part of my article on the Canon of Scripture. I will debate James White any day of the week on this issue. http://www.catholicchampion.com/page12/page12.html

James said...

MB wrote: "It is a well known fact even by Protestant scholars that all of the Early Fathers of the first 400 years or so of the Church believed the Deuterocanonical books to Sacred Scripture and quoted them as such."

Is that why Roger Beckwith's book exists? Is that why scholarly literature is filled with documentation to the contrary? Sir, wishful thinking is not a form of rational argument. You will never be in a position to present a meaningful argument until you stop using it. There is no monolithic "early church," and as long as you keep pretending there was, you won't even be in the competition. Right now you are presenting sheer fantasy that any semi-serious student of the subject knows to be untrue.

James White

Mike Burgess said...

Dr. White, to which Beckwith book do you refer, "The Old Testament canon of the New Testament Church"?

Apart from what you've written on the passage in question before, could you engage my questions above to explain your position that the sufficiency of Scripture to equip the man of God, by way of profitability for training in righteousness, rebuke, reproof, etc., unto completeness for every good work is an affirmation of the proposition that the Scriptures are thus exclusively the rule of faith (which ostensibly presumes your other solas)?


Matthew Bellisario said...

James, I think you are the wishful thinker here. Substantiate your claims. I have put forth a source for my position by a well known, very respected scholar Bruce Metzger. I can pull several more for you if you would like that bury your fallacious position. Unlike many today I document my sources sir, and I must say the quotes you put up on your videos are not interpreted by anyone in any scholarly circle the way you have.

As I said before James, any time, any day, if you want to debate this issue about the early Church, the first 400 years and how they viewed the Deuterocanonicals, I welcome it. As long as you can man up and admit that you are wrong when I bury you with a slew of real Protestant and Catholic scholars. Cut and paste methods don't work with me. Document your sources for once. Who's word is someone going to take James. Your interpretation of these manuscripts, or a real scholar like Metzger. Let the people decide, I think you are on the losing end my friend.

Mike Burgess said...

Why, now that you mention it, I'm pretty sure those are crickets.

Hit and run, obfuscation, more diversionary tactics.

Beckwith's book, IIRC, had a fair bit to say about Jabneh/Jamnia not being an authoritative "council" as White likes to portray it (why on earth would the pronouncements of Jewish scholars protesting Christian usage of the books they excluded hold any sway over Christians, anyway?); it interacts with Sundberg and Leimann in such a way that he takes away their view that there was not an exclusive Alexandrian canon; there's a difference between inspired and canonical (contra White); and that the three-stage view of canon formation is not valid.

I wait for answers to the questions I posed.

Matthew Bellisario said...

That is usually what you will get when you present White with a real argument backed up by documented sources that go against what he believes. He just disappears.

Mike Burgess said...

Apparently so. Nice work, by the way.

James said...

[That is usually what you will get when you present White with a real argument backed up by documented sources that go against what he believes. He just disappears.]

Mr. Bellisario, I will be blunt. Your position is so fantastic, so ridiculous, so outside the realm of meaningful interaction, that it never crossed my mind to even be interested in your response. The facts are so obvious that your wild eyed claims are simply laughable. Your commentary is only the Roman Catholic version of Peter Ruckman, or some of the worst of the Mormon or Muslim apologists I have had the misfortune of encountering over the years. I do not waste my time with them, nor will I waste my time with you. I pointed out a very obvious and simple refutation of your absurd claims: an entire work, filled with hundreds, if not thousands, of reference notes (taken in context, something you would do well to study and imitate), that comes to the conclusion that there was a deep, and wide viewpoint in the early church that represented a rejection of the apocryphal works as inspired texts of Scripture. This is not a disputable fact, and only fanatics without the ability to reason would say "No, no, EVERYONE believed in the inspiration of those books!" Obfuscate all you wish, engage in sophistry all you wish, but no serious minded person will find your rants to be of any serious worth.

There are, then, of the Old Testament, twenty-two books in number;...Again it is not tedious to speak of the [books] of the New Testament...These are fountains of salvation, that they who thirst may be satisfied with the living words they contain. In these alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no man add to these, neither let him take ought from these....But for greater exactness I add this also, writing of necessity; that there are other books besides these not indeed included in the Canon, but appointed by the Fathers to be read by those who newly join us, and who wish for instruction in the word of godliness. The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read...(Athanasius' 39th Festal Letter: if you have to twist these words into a pretzel, you have proven my point).

Now Mr. Bellisario, I have been dealing with bullies such as yourself for a long time, and I know that you have little else to be doing other than trying to start a long and fruitless food fight. There was a day when I cared about such things, that day is now long past. I am far too busy with worthwhile things to invest another moment with one who has no ears to hear. So please, feel free to pat yourself on the back and strut about---life is too short for such silliness.

James White

Mike Burgess said...

Matthew, at least you rate attention. If you're outside the realm of meaningful interaction because of your wild-eyed "rants," you "bully," I will be content to remain unanswered and invisible.

James White said "The Wisdom of Solomon, and the Wisdom of Sirach, and Esther, and Judith, and Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being [merely] read...(Athanasius' 39th Festal Letter: if you have to twist these words into a pretzel, you have proven my point)."

quoting in part St. Athanasius' festal letter of 367 A.D.

Leaving aside Athanasius' apparent exclusion of Esther from the canon, I wonder if Dr. White will point me to the source upon which he relies which indicates that those works St. Athanasius refers to as "apocrypha" are the same ones which are now included in the Catholic O.T.? And what of Matthew's point that he was roughly speaking of the Fathers' universal usage in the "first 400 years or so" of the Church? 367 is getting close to that limit, so I think Dr. White is straining at gnats (and in a rather brutish manner at that).

Matthew Bellisario said...
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