Wednesday, February 28, 2007

And around and around we go….

Here was an interesting little exercise from a recent CARM discussion I walked in on:

Poor jay, I will pray that God deliver you from darkness.

Jay: He did and I joined the catholic church, the one Jesus founded. "That thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" I belong to that church, you do not.

Then I wander in….

Hi Jay, Just a quick question- Are you relying on the Bible alone to substantiate your belief in the papacy? Or do you have some other ultimate authority?

Jay: See, that is a loaded question, especially the word "ultimate". The NT came out of the church, the church did not come out of the NT. I use Scripture and Sacred Tradition. The confession of Christ as well as Feed My Sheep pointed to Peter as the leader from Jesus Himself. No, Paul was NOT the leader.

I'm just curious why you're quoting scripture to prove the papacy. That's a very protestant thing to do- using scripture to justify one's belief. So, if the NT came out of the church, how can you therefore use it to prove the authority of the church?

Jay: I was doing it on YOUR level, the protestant way, so you would understand it. I don't have to use the NT to prove the papacy since the existence of the papacy was in place BEFORE the NT was written. The NT is the history of the church. As you know you only had Oral Tradition before the written Word. The Word of God came orally first.

Ok, so what evidence proves that God established the papacy? Or do you just believe it by faith?

Jay: By FAITH and by WORD. Jesus did not use the word PAPACY. That is a later term as you know. Jesus's own words in the CONFESSION and the charge of FEEDING the SHEEP points to Peter as the leader of the church. It does not matter if anyone agreed to it or not. This gives me FAITH and Word, backed up by St. Iggy, a true witness. I don't like circular arguments as well as dissecting the word "Faith" by using relitivism as prots are known for.

Sounds to me like you're back to quoting the Bible again to prove your belief.

Jay: I mentioned St. Iggy if you did not get.

So, that's how you know God established the papacy? Wow. Amazing. And as far as I know, he wasn't even infallible.

Jay: The NT explained what Jesus already started. We all agree the Gospels contain the Word of God. St Iggy is just a witness to what had taken place. He doesn't have to be infallible. You might as well throw out your history books and everything else if you do not believe in eye witnesses.

I agree that the Bible is an ultimate authority. It is my ultimate authority, and I use it to establish truth. However, you being Roman Catholic say the church precedes the Bible, and you keep evading how it is you prove the authority of the Papacy. It can't be proved by the Bible if it comes before the Bible. In regards to “St Iggy”- This is a similar problem. It posits the testimony of someone who came afterward proves the authority of that which precedes it.

Jay: Are you telling me that the church DID not exist before the NT was written down? You can't be serious......The Word of God, preached Orally, proved Peter was the chosen leader. Then the Gospels were written. St Iggy and others backs all this up.

Peter states Scripture originated when men of God were moved by the Holy Spirit. Paul mentions that the same gospel he proclaimed was also proclaimed in the Old Testament (1 Cor 15:1-4), so the gospel, and at least some of the scriptures, precede a church founded in Rome. Thus, the church already had an ultimate authority by which to prove their beliefs. You though have attempted to prove your belief in the papacy by the word of God in oral form that stated Peter was the first pope and the papacy was established. Of course, one has no way of verifying that an oral message stating such ever happened. So again, I ask, on what basis do you believe in the papacy?

Jay: I am talking about the New Testament, not all scripture. Jesus chose Peter in the New Testament that was preached orally before it was written. The church was not founded in Rome, but headquartered there by Peter. Jesus's church was started on Pentecost, 33 ad, in Jerusalem.

This little exercise was intended to show you that you begin with the papacy as your ultimate authority. In fact, had you simply admitted this, I would have thanked you. You begin with the Roman papacy as true. The only thing we know about Jesus is from the testimony of the Scriptures. We don't have oral traditions about Jesus still floating around by which to appeal to.

Jay: Well the NT and the catholic church were created by the same person Jesus Christ.

And around and around we go…. first Jay said the New Testament came out of the church, now it was created by Jesus Christ. I can accept this answer as an unproven presuposition. In fact, I can even agree with it.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Jesus Family Tomb

Today I bought The Jesus Family Tomb (Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino, San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 2007). As I sit here and thumb through it- I’m going to post some snippets.

Here are a few things from the introduction by James Cameron:

"As I write, it is Christmas Eve. The world is as torn by war as ever, and those wars are centered more in biblical lands than they have been for almost a millennium. A few months ago, the last part of our film production was delayed because Lebanese Katusha rockets were falling too close to our locations in Nazareth. Jesus's cry for compassion among men is as desperately needed a message today as it ever was. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of a man who called to the spark of goodness that exists within all of us, a man who gave the world hope two thousand years ago. His words, thoughts, and deeds have echoed down through the centuries undiminished. But who was this Jesus? Read on. You're about to meet him." P.xiv)

Spark of goodness? Is he kidding?

“Until now there has been zero physical evidence of his existence.” (p.viii).

Try applying this standard to the entirety of antiquity.

"Most of what we know, or think we know, comes from the four great Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But what exactly are these Gospels? To the deeply and unquestioningly faithful, they are the direct and absolute word of God, recorded by the most saintly of men. Historians, however, now view them as composite works, each created by several authors and based in turn on oral traditions carried on for decades, possibly half a century, after Christ's actual ministry. There is no historical evidence that any of the authors, if in fact they were individuals, actually heard the words of Jesus from his own lips. Though I'm not a historian by training, I have loved history and archaeology since I was a child. But I grew up with the illusion that history, as it was taught to me, was sacrosanct, because it was all "written down somewhere." My first foray into a historical/archaeological investigation proved that notion wrong." (p.ix)

Which historians? Which several authors? which oral traditions?

"For my motion picture Titanic, I made a detailed study of that disaster, an event that took place merely a century ago, was described in detail by hundreds of eyewitnesses, and was immediately recorded by an already hypertrophied print media. Despite this, I found the testimony to be spotty and contradictory, and some witnesses clearly colored their testimony to fit personal or corporate agendas. As a result, huge gaps in our understanding of the event persist. The oceanographer Robert Ballard surprised historians by finding the Titanic broken into two pieces on the seafloor, despite an "official" history that had the ship sinking in one piece. Even after my thirty-three dives to the site and fifty hours of flying robot cameras through the interior, I still do not have a complete picture of what happened. As a result of this twelve-year investigation, I have come to realize that history is a consensus hallucination."

If history is a "consensus hallucination", why is Cameron's work not likewise the same?

"The Gospels as we know them today have been retranscribed and rewritten many times and translated from one language to another—from Aramaic to Greek to Coptic to Latin to various forms of English—with corresponding losses in nuanced meaning. They have been edited by Church fathers, centuries after the original words were spoken, to conform to their subsequent vision of orthodoxy. And yet, in the absence of the tiniest scrap of concrete physical evidence, they were our onlyrecord of the life and times of Jesus." (p.x)

So much for the science of textual criticism.

"Complicating matters are the other Gospels: the apocryphal texts such as the Gnostic Gospels of the Nag Hammadi Library found in the Egyptian desert in 1945. Buried in an earthen jar to keep them from the Christian orthodoxy of the fourth century, which sought to eradicate all the so-called heresies, these precious and astonishing books show the rich diversity of early Christian thought and give clues to the historical story not available in the Big Four of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. In the Gospel of Mary and the Acts of Philip, for example, Mary Magdalene is known as the "Apostle to the Apostles," an important teacher and partner in Jesus's ministry whom Jesus favored even over Simon Peter. She is described as Jesuss "companion," and she even kissed him on his "mouth" (the word many supply for what is a missing word in the Gospel), to the chagrin of the other disciples. What was this all about?" (p.x)

Acts of Philip- now there's a reliable source. Let's just pull out our 14th Century manuscript and do some good historical work.

Monday, February 26, 2007

An Ancient Voice For The Day #4

Augustine (354-430) while commenting on Isaiah 43:

"What comes next? I will make a way in the wilderness. In which wilderness? That of the nations, of course, where there was no worship of the true God. I will make a way in the wilderness, and streams in the dry places. Nowhere among the nations were the prophets ever read, now their writings are flooding all the nations."

Source: John E. Rotelle, O.S.A., ed., WSA, Newly Discovered Sermons, Part 3, Vol. 11, trans. Edmund Hill, O.P., Sermon 374.21 (Hyde Park: New City Press, 1997), p. 405.

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Team Apologian

My entries on this blog have had a little less meat than usual. No, it’s not because I’m running out of things to write about. In the past few weeks I’ve concentrated on writing entries for Team Apologian. Thus far, these entries can be found here:

Roman Catholic Conversion Stories: An Introduction

Roman Catholic Conversion Stories: A Response

Who Has The Fullness of Truth?

Catholic Answers Responds to "Who Has The Fullness of Truth?"

Roman Catholic Apologetics Goes Presuppositional

Calvin Said What?

I also want to take the opportunity to mention a few of the other recent Team Apologian entries. Mike Porter wrote a fascinating entry entitled, Bullinger and the Upstart Church in Rome. He also answered some criticisms: Bullinger on Rome, a Reply; Knowing When to Move On; And, my favorite response: Helping out a Faithful Reader.... (A must read!!)
Mike shared a really insightful comment on Paul and Presuppositional apologetics. I look forward to seeing that comment as an upcoming blog entry, or I might just have steal, err..I mean borrow it.

Also, the famous Calvinist Gadfly, Alan Kurschner wrote his first aomin entry, Dave Hunt Defends the Irrationality of Man's Autonomy. Alan has the same bad habit I do- reading Dave Hunt’s latest Berean Call. I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Calvinist Gadfly blog. It is a daily Internet stop for many of us. I look forward to Alan’s contributions to aomin.

Finally, just a reminder on something I mentioned a few weeks back. Writing blog entries actually takes a lot of time. But most time consuming is responding to every jot and title that is given back via the blogback comments or through someone else’s blog. I enjoy the comments, but it really is impossible, given my schedule to respond to every comment. I will probably no longer be able to address the blogback comments, unless it is something of dire importance. I even thought about turning the comments section off- but I do so much enjoy much of the feedback- and the responses can lead to further study. Given my schedule and responsibilites, I simply don't have the time to interact with the comments.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Calvinist Conversion Stories

Paul knocked to the ground, blinded, and healed, is a dramatic account of God’s effectual calling and sovereign grace. Over the years I’ve heard unique conversion stories, maybe not as striking, but remarkable nonetheless. One of my seminary professors told of a 19th century minister who experienced conversion from his own sermons! Not getting the details, I’ve wondered if maybe this was a conversion myth- but it is not out of the realm of possibility. Case in point: you’ve probably never heard of Pietronella Baltus. This woman refused to shake the hand of her new minister when he came to visit her. Baltus, though a layman and not a skilled theologian, realized something just wasn’t right with the preaching she heard at church. Her minister had been steeped in liberalism and rationalism. Asking her why she would not shake hands, she told him he was not preaching the Gospel, and she subsequently preached it to him. This minister took her words to heart, and credits her as being used by God in his conversion. He kept a picture of her on his desk his entire life. The minister’s name was Abraham Kuyper, one of the most influential Dutch theologians of the 19th Century.

Here a few snippets with the details:

“After completing his doctorate (his thesis was a modification of his prize-winning work on à Lasco and Calvin), he took the call to a congregation in Beesd and married Johanna Hendrika Schaay, a girl from Rotterdam. The congregation, a small village church, was composed of simple villagers, some of whom were themselves modern and worldly, but some of whom were orthodox and sincere. In an effort to get to know his parishioners, Kuyper visited each in turn. He was surprised and chagrined when one peasant girl of thirty, Pietronella Baltus, refused to shake his hand. Finally Kuyper prevailed upon her to do so, but she made it clear she would do this only because he was a fellow human being, not a brother in Christ. It is quite amazing that Kuyper had the grace and humility not only to inquire from her concerning her reasons, but also to return again and again to her home when she told him that he was preaching false doctrine and that his soul was in danger of eternal hell. It was at the feet of these humble parishioners that Kuyper was led back to Calvin and the Reformed fathers, and from them to the Scriptures, the one great fountain of the Reformed faith.” [Source: Abraham Kuyper: Dutch Calvinist]

"Describing the exact nature of his conversion is difficult, but in his four years at Beesd, Kuyper worked out his salvation "with fear and trembling" among the devout, though uneducated, people of his church. These people held fast to the faith of the reformers. One woman in particular, only a few years his senior, had a profound impact on him by articulately explaining how her beliefs differed from his and urging him to read Calvin's Institutes. The people of his church forced him to choose between "full sovereign grace," (as they put it) and the modernist thought he had still kept open for himself. Kuyper said: "Their obduracy became a blessing for my heart and the rising of the morning star for my life…I had grasped but had not yet found the Word of reconciliation" (Henderson 32). Henderson (32) notes several remarkable things about this conversion: 1) it was the people of the rural Netherlands who taught their future leader some important lessons, 2) this experience cemented his affinity for the "little people" who were to become his greatest supporters, and 3) this affinity with uneducated folk took root in Kuyper's personality, style and faith." [Source: George Saylor, Worldview & Theology, Abraham Kuyper]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Augustine: Rome Has Spoken, The Matter Is Settled

This little tidbit caught my attention on a discussion board. It’s an explanation of the Augustine quote, Roma locuta, causa finita ("Rome has spoken, the matter is settled"). Roman Catholic scholar Klaus Schatz, S.J., addressed this quote in, Papal Primacy (Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1996, p. 34-35). Schatz, received his doctorate at Rome's Gregorian University in 1974 and since 1975 has taught Church history at the St. Georgen School of Philosophy and Theology in Frankfurt, Germany. Schatz is not fringe Catholic scholar. He believes in the development of the papacy.

“In the case of North Africa it is interesting to note the attitude of a self-confident and organizationally intact Church toward Rome. The saying of Bishop Augustine of Hippo (396-430), Roma locuta, causa finita ("Rome has spoken, the matter is settled") was quoted repeatedly. However, the quotation is really a bold reshaping of the words of that Church Father taken quite out of context.

Concretely the issue was the teaching of Pelagius, an ascetic from Britain who lived in Rome. Pelagius took a stand against permissive and minimalist Christianity that shrank from the moral seriousness of Christian discipleship and used human incapacity and trust in grace alone to excuse personal sloth. He therefore emphasized an ethical Christianity of works and moral challenge for which grace was primarily an incentive to action; human beings remain capable of choosing between good and evil by their own power. This teaching was condemned by two North African councils in Carthage and Mileve in 416. But since Pelagius lived in Rome, and Rome was the center of the Pelagian movement, it seemed appropriate to inform Pope Innocent I of the decision. Ultimately, the struggle against Pelagianism could only be carried on with the cooperation of Rome. The Pope finally responded in 417, accepting the decisions of the two councils. Augustine then wrote: "In this matter, two councils have already sent letters to the apostolic see, and from thence rescripts have come back. the matter is settled (causa finita est); if only the heresy would cease!"

Both the context of this statement and its continuity with the rest of Augustine's thought permit no interpretation other than that Rome's verdict alone is not decisive; rather, it disposes of all doubt after all that has preceded it. This is because there remains no other ecclesiastical authority of any consequence to which the Pelagians can appeal, and in particular the very authority from which they could most readily have expected a favorable decision, namely Rome, has clearly ruled against them!

In general, Augustine attributes a relatively substantial weight of authority to the Roman church in questions of faith but does not consider that it has a superior teaching office. It has auctoritas, but not potestas over the Church in North Africa. The very councils mentioned above give a clear picture of the way the Africans, including Augustine, regarded Rome's teaching authority. They sent their records to Rome not to obtain formal confirmation, but because they acknowledged that the Roman church, with its tradition, had a greated auctoritas in matters of faith; therefore they desired to have a Roman decision united with their own. This is especially obvious in a letter from Augustine writing for five bishops; we are not, he said, pouring our little trickle back into your ample fountain to increase it, but. . .we wish to be reassured by you that this trickle of ours, however scant, flows from the same fountainhead as your abundant stream, and we desire the consolation of your writings, drawn from our common share of the one grace. Every word of this should be noted: The Roman church is not the source of the African Church, for both, in parallel streams, flow from the river of the same tradition, even though the river is fuller in the Roman church. Rome thus has a relatively greater and more weighty authority, and that is why the African Church seeks a verdict from Rome.”

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Free Calvin Book: Sermons on Deuteronomy 27 & 28

In searching for a Calvin quote, I came across an on-line version of Covenant Enforced: Sermons on Deuteronomy 27 and 28.

“John Calvin preached through the book of Deuteronomy on weekdays from March, 1555, to July, 1556. In all, he preached 200 sermons, expounding the book in detail and making applications to the social and political life of Geneva, as well as to the personal lives of her citizens. The fifteen sermons selected here have not been seen in English since they were first translated and published in 1583. In this volume, editor James B. Jordan has revised Arthur Golding's translation into modern English, making Calvin's words come alive with renewed impact. These sermons are as timely today as when they were first preached. Cultures that depart from God fall under His judgment. So says the Bible, and so said John Calvin. Cultures that obey God, however, receive His blessing. If there is a message that the Western world needs to hear at the present time, surely this is it.”

Monday, February 19, 2007

An Ancient Voice For The Day #3

Epiphanius (310/320-403):

"The truth is self-authenticating and cannot be overthrown even if wickedness shamelessly opposes the precept of truth."

Source: Frank Williams, trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Books II and III (Sects 47-80, De Fide), 66. Against Manichaeans, 10,4 (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. 230.

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Presuppositional Apologetics

Many people make a broad distinction between presuppositional and evidential (or classical) apologetics. The classical method enjoys a rich history (for instance B.B. Warfield would be considered a classical apologist), while the Presuppositional approach really came to fruition with Van Til and Greg Bahnsen (though I've read various things from different theologians in church history that have sounded very presuppositional).

I recall hearing Michael Horton say he was presuppositional, but really, whatever "worked" for a particular person is what he would use. He may be on to something- if understood in this sense: I believe that one must be attentive to where a non-believer “is at”. Presuppositional arguments might be good for a hardcore atheist or pseudo-intellectual type. For instance, a guy I work with is a left-wing liberal, and well educated. Presuppositional arguments are very effective to get him to think. An evidential approach though may be perfect for someone who assumes much of the Christian worldview already. Sharing the classical argument that Christ was either “liar, lunatic or Lord” might be very helpful in getting to the gospel, quickly, for someone who's ready. From my viewpoint, both methods are possible.
That being said, my real love in apologetics is the presuppositional approach. Probably the best example of this approach is the debate between the late Greg Bahnsen and the atheist Gordon Stein. “Does God Exist?”. It’s best to track down an audio copy of this debate. This is not "easy listening". It requires one's complete attention, and multiple listenings. It's not something one can put on and then "multi-task". It will be of tremendous benefit to anyone interested in presuppositional apologetics.

If you’ve only listened to it once, my opinion is that it gets better the more one listens to it- it really takes time to chew and digest the arguments from both sides. Quite frankly, the first time I listened to the debate years ago, a lot of it went over my head. I subsequently burned off a copy to CD in which I divided each segment up to individual tracks, and took the time to focus on each section. Sometimes driving to work, I’d listen to only Bahnsen’s segments, other times just Stein’s. If wasn't until I took a seminary-level class in presuppositional apologetics that it all really made sense to me. Presuppositional arguments are like dynamite. They are extremely powerful.

Bahnsen doesn’t deny the use of reason, argument, and evidence. His point though is that these only make “sense” and find meaning in the context of a theistic worldview.

In response to the question “Is God good?” Bahnsen responds he knows God is good because:

“He saved me. He created me. He made the world and He made it good. He sent His son into the world to die for my sins. Many of these evidences are quite convincing to me, but I don’t use them outside of a word-view in which they make sense, in which they would be taken as true. If you mean is God good in such a way, or can I give you evidence that you would accept? That would depend on what your presuppositions are.”

In response to the question, “What solid evidence do you have to maintain that the Christian faith is the only true religion with a god? There are religions far older, and more or just as wide spread which millions of people consider valid,” Bahnsen answers,

“I have not found the non-Christian religions to be philosophically defensible, each of them being either internally incoherent or undermining human reason and experience… I will give just a couple of illustrations. Obviously I’m not going to cover all of them.

For instance, Hinduism assumes that God, or Raman is the impersonal and universal soul of the unchanging one of which all things are part (for instance). And because of that particular outlook, Hinduism says that everything in terms of my normal experience of the world and thinking is Maya, or illusion. Because everything in experience and thinking presupposes distinctions. But that is contrary to the most fundamental metaphysical fact, and that’s that there are no distinctions, all is one. So basically, Hinduism tells me that all my thinking, all of my reasoning is illusion. In so doing, it undermines reason.

You can take religions such as Shintoism, it’s view of Commi, the forces that permeate the universe, or Taoism, the ordering force of the universe. And they are impersonal forces, and as such are even less than human beings because they don’t have volition or intelligence.”

I point these things out to enforce the fact that presuppositional arguments are not an appeal to fideism. The employ reason, argument, and evidence. Bahnsen says elsewhere (not in the debate):

"God wishes for us to be rational: to exercise and improve our reasoning ability in understanding, propounding and defending the truths of Scripture. And as Locke observed, this reasoning ability does not begin or end with the teaching of Aristotle. To be rational is a trait much broader than the use of syllogisms (although they certainly have their place). The kind of rationality or reasoning that we will employ in defending the Christian faith involves not only study of formal logic (patterns or abstract forms of inference), but also attention to informal fallacies in ordinary language, the use of inductive reasoning, the handling of empirical evidence in history, science, linguistics, etc., and especially reflection upon the demands of an adequate worldview in terms of which all such thinking makes sense."

Bahnsen was keen on exposing the prejudice of non-Christians in regards to the "facts." In evaluating arguments against Scripture, Bahnsen uses arguments very similar to Josh McDowell:

"The third indication of prejudice in the criticism of the unbeliever is that he or she has not taken account of the actual evidence which is publicly available regarding the text of Scripture. If the critic had taken time to look into this subject, he or she would not have offered the outlandish evaluation that the Biblical text is unreliable. This came home to me with great force after taking an advanced course on Plato in graduate school, a course which took account of the textual criticism of the literary corpus of Plato's works. Our earliest extant manuscript of a work by Plato dates from right before 900 A.D. ("Oxford B," found in a Patmos monastery by E. B. Clarke), and we must remember that Plato is thought to have written roughly 350 years before Christ -- thus leaving us with a gap of over twelve centuries. By contrast, the earliest fragments of the New Testament date less than fifty years after the original writing; the bulk of our most important extant manuscripts dates from 200-300 years after original composition. The text of the New Testament is remarkably uniform and well established. The reliability of the Old Testament text has been demonstrated by the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls.

The overall authenticity and accuracy of the Biblical text is well known to scholars. Frederick Kenyon concluded: "The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds in it the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation, throughout the centuries." Such assessments from competent scholars could be multiplied easily -- which only goes to show the prejudice that operates in the thinking of unbelievers who offhand criticize the Bible for "very likely" having a dubious text."

I point all these things out for any of you interested in learning about presuppositionalism. Sometimes those of us who spent years in evangelicalism will over-react to the multitudes of Arminian apologetics we've been exposed to, and wrongly embrace a form of presuppostionalism that is an over-reaction to folks like Strobel, Geisler, McDowell, Paul Little, etc. When I first gripped presuppositional apologetics, it was just one more weapon against Arminian theology. The more though I learned about it, the more I learned to employ some of the work from the Classical approach.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Hank on Jeremiah 1:5...Well, Not Really

Jeremiah 1:5
"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations."

I listened to the Bible Answer Man Show for 2/12/07. Hank took a call from a guy asking about Jeremiah 1:5. Hank's answer, if you can call it that, did quite a dance around Jeremiah 1:5. In fact, I don't think Hank ever commented on the verse. Do you like philosophical speculation rather than Biblical exegesis? Then, you'll enjoy Hank's answer.The call i'm talking about can be found here:

The Bible Answer Man Comments on Jeremiah 1:5

The question was in essence, "If God knew people before He creates them, why would he create someone He knew was going to Hell?" The caller sees the verse directly says God knew Jeremiah before he was born, and further, that he was set apart by God before his birth to be a prophet. The caller makes the implication that if God knows and chooses someone before birth, that would mean that God knows and chooses everyone before birth to live a particular life, and some of those particular lives end up eternally apart from God.

After you listen to Hank's answer, you'll note one thing in particular: his answer was devoid of Scripture. Here would be a perfect place for Hank to use the analogy of faith- to let Scripture interpret Scripture, and also to show how the New Testament interprets the Old Testament. Is there a place in the New Testament that speaks to this issue? There certainly is:

Romans 9 (NAS)
9 For this is the word of promise: "AT THIS TIME I WILL COME, AND SARAH SHALL HAVE A SON."
10 And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac;
11 for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God's purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls,

12 it was said to her, "THE OLDER WILL SERVE THE YOUNGER."
13 Just as it is written, "JACOB I LOVED, BUT ESAU I HATED."
14 What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be!
16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19 You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"
20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?
21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
24even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.

Now, I like Hank and his work. But if his show claims to provide Bible answers, then by all means, he should provide Bible answers rather than philsophic answers.

Monday, February 12, 2007

An Ancient Voice For The Day #2

A few years back over on The Areopagus discussion board, a series ran entitled, “An Ancient Voice For The Day”. The series provided brief quotes from the early church fathers. I received permission to re-run this series here, so every Monday, I’m going to do just that.

Nemesius of Emesa (fl. late 4th century):
"But for us the sufficient demonstration of the soul’s immortality is the teaching of Holy Scripture, which is self-authenticating because inspired of God."

Source: William Telfer, ed., The Library of Christian Classics, Vol. IV, Cyril of Jerusalem and Nemesius of Emesa: On the Nature of Man, Chapter 2 Of the soul (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1955), p. 292.

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Friday, February 09, 2007

From The TertiumQuid Tape Library: Evangelicals on Law and Gospel

I found an old cassette of a White Horse Inn broadcast. This short audio clip below shows the sad state of the Evangelical church in the United States. The premise was simple: go to a large meeting of Christians and ask them to name the 10 Commandments, then ask them to explain justification. In other words, explain law and Gospel. The answers will first amaze you, and then distress you.

Who Knows the 10 Commandments and What Justification Means?

To listen to current broadcasts of the White Horse Inn, click here. The shows put out by these guys are informative for those of you wishing to fulfill the Lord’s words in Matthew 5:13-16.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Goddess Lutherans: The Sifting of Christianity Through Feminism

"The Lutheran Feminist Movement exists to celebrate the feminine persona of God/dess and dimensions of the sacred as expressed in worship, learning, mutual care, and acts of justice."

Now here’s a Lutheran church that I found interesting (for lack of a better word): Ebenezer Lutheran Church, San Francisco - ELCA. Particularly, you may be interested in attending the Christian Goddess Rosary every Wednesday at 7:00 PM. Now before the Roman Catholic crowd starts up with a mantra about how Protestants are a disorganized blueprint for anarchy, you might want to visit Junia's Daughter:Reflections of a Catholic Woman Priest.

Here's my 2 cents: CS Lewis once said, "God himself has taught us how to speak of Him." I would add, the male imagery found in Scripture does not depreciate women- anymore than the examples of feminine images depreciate masculinity. The Goddess Lutherans pray, "Our Mother who is within us we celebrate your many names." When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, "Our Father", I would not have stopped him to point out His use of a masculine image. I'm the type of person who just does what an almighty God tells him to do. Since Jesus spoke infallibly, I can rest assured that however he taught me to pray is the right way to pray. This is but another aspect of sola scriptura. We must continually conform ourselves to its clear teaching, regardless of our agendas. I would challenge these ladies to examine their feminist tradition in light of sacred scripture. One cannot sift Christianity through feminism. Christianity comes with a particular vocabulary.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Roman Catholic Historian Hartmann Grisar on Luther

Hartmann Grisar was a Jesuit historian who used Freudian psychology to assess Luther as a "pathological manic-depressive personality." Grisar argues Luther was "a neurotic man who spent his entire life unhappy and guilt-ridden."

Roman Catholic historian Hartmann Grisar did an extensive 6-volume work on Luther. These volumes have been out of print for some time. Over the years, I’ve managed to collect the first 4 volumes.  All six volumes are now available on-line here (and I've listed them here). It was one of Rome's defenders that initially piqued my interested in Grisar’s work. He approvingly posted a large section from Grisar (found here). Also in  Surprised By Truth: 11 Converts Give the Biblical and Historical Reasons for Becoming Catholic, this same apologist stated,
After seven tense weeks of alternately questioning my sanity and arriving at immensely exciting new plateaus of discovery, the final death blow came in just the fashion I had suspected. I knew that if I was to reject Protestantism, then I had to examine its historical roots: the so-called Protestant Reformation. I had read about Martin Luther, and considered him one of my biggest heroes. I accepted the standard Protestant textbook myth of Martin Luther, as the bold, righteous rebel who stood against the darkness of ‘Romanist tyranny, superstitious ritualism, and unbiblical traditions of men’ that had been added on to the original, ‘pure’ Christianity described in the book of Acts.
But when I studied a large portion of the six-volume biography of Luther, by the German Jesuit Hartmann Grisar, my opinion of Luther was turned upside down. Grisar convinced me that the foundational tenets of the Protestant revolution were altogether tenuous.
[This excerpt is from a chapter entitled, “Confessions of a 1980’s Jesus Freak,” found in Patrick Madrid, Surprised By Truth, (San Diego: Basilica Press, 1994). The section quoted is from page 250-251].

Grisar’s work was a key ingredient in this apologist's “conversion” to the Roman Catholic Church. If this body of work from Grisar is so powerful, one wonders why it's no longer in print?  I suspect even Grisar himself realized his six-volume set was a cumbersome read. Richard Stauffer makes an interesting comment on it: “This monumental work, replete with all sorts of repetitions, abounding in digressions that are often long enough to be monographs in their own right, is not very easy to read” [Richard Stauffer, Luther As Seen By Catholics (Virginia: John Knox Press, 1967), 15] Grisar eventually edited the six volumes down to a popular one volume text, also out of print, but easy enough to find used.

In fairness,  I understand the emotional bond Rome's defender has to Hartmann Grisar. I remember being a garden-variety-non-denominational evangelical-Arminian and hearing RC Sproul for the first time. But simply because we have an emotional attachment to an author does not mean we should neglect to evaluate their work. I posit that when Grisar was utilized, Rome's defender didn’t read anything that would evaluate Grisar and the worth that his books have had in popular academia. Had he done so, he would have come to realize Grisar's work is an outdated approach to Luther.

My less than approving opinion of Hartmann Grisar was not arrived at because of Grisar’s adherence to Catholicism, or his being a “a learned, meticulous Jesuit” as Rome's defender once described him. I do not have an “anti-catholic” bias in my Luther research. For instance, I treat Roman Catholic scholars like Joseph Lortz, Harry McSorely, and John Todd with the respect they deserve, even when I disagree with them (I do!). My research into Grisar’s work has led me to echo both the opinions of both Roman Catholic and Protestant scholars in regard to his work. This particular defender of Rome holds great value in determining truth by scholarly consensus. With that in mind, consider the following.Most of the information below can be found in an extended form in my paper, The Roman Catholic Perspective of Martin Luther(Part One).

Hartmann Grisar made a positive attempt to go beyond the work of Roman Catholic scholar Heinrich Denifle’s vilification, but in essence did nothing more than follow in his footsteps. Grisar can be praised for avoiding some of the abusive polemic language that filled Denifle’s work. He also strove to disprove many of the stories about Luther’s personal life that Denifle used to damage the reputation of Luther. While noting these positive aspects of Grisar’s work, most scholars tend to treat Grisar and Denifle together, as two scholars who basically arrived at the same conclusions, sharing the same bias.

Richard Stauffer has succinctly said,
Compared with Denifle's work, that of Grisar seems an improvement, if only by its tone; for is it not written with a chilliness preferable to the rabies of its predecessor? One might think so at first sight; but I follow Walter Kohler in regarding the brutality of the Dominican as better than the smoothness of the Jesuit. Where Denifle says straight out what he thinks to be the truth, Grisar makes subtle insinuations. One example from among many will illustrate this. It concerns the illness from which Luther suffered in 1523. In asking what was the cause of first the fever and then the insomnia, Grisar relies on a document which an historian cannot draw on in this case and so suggests that Luther could have had the malum Franciae, that is, syphilis. Grisar does not make positive statements; he is content to hint. But by this he shows clearly enough the malice of which the Roman Catholic historian Adolf Herte accused him thirty years later.1
Ian Siggins says that Grisar’s works on Luther are “A Catholic historian’s learned but extremely negative critique of Luther.”2 James Atkinson has said,
There can be no doubt of the sincerity and conviction of Cochlaeus, but neither can there be any doubt that it was he who poisoned the well of historical studies. Roman Catholic historians have drawn their prejudice against Luther from this polemical source, which in its animosity has an almost total disregard for objective truth and historical facts. Denifle, Grisar, Cristiani, Paquier, and Maritain (to cite the most famous and influential) have all drunk deep of this poisoned well-too deeply- and lesser historians have adopted their position. 3
Grisar’s intent was to ruin Luther’s reputation, and among those who accept him as an authority without reading further, we may suppose that he succeeds altogether too well. Nevertheless, not all Catholic scholars have been convinced. Friedrich Heiler said of Grisar’s work that it was not an essay in understanding Luther, but an attempt to rule out Luther’s person and liquidate Luther’s work. Hubert Jedin, Adolf Herte, and Yves M.-J. Congar have expressly stated that Grisar was wrong to argue that Luther was a spent force.” Rupp writes of Grisar and Denifle, ‘Anybody who cares to work through their thousands of pages will emerge knowing that he has heard all that can plausibly be said against the character and work of Martin Luther.4
Gordon Rupp stated,
Grisar dismisses and even goes out of the way to refute innumerable fables and calumnies. But there are still very many which he is careful to report at length, and one or two elderly calumnies into which he contrives to breathe fresh life. Yet on the whole, he may be said to have done good service even in these cases by provoking more accurate investigation. Thus, there was the old story that Luther’s father had killed a man, which led to investigation which showed that there were two brothers Luther in Mansfield, one Big Hans and the other little Hans. Protestants and Catholics for what its worth, may now reflect equably on the truth that while Luther’s father was an honest citizen, his uncle was an unconscionable knave.
Yet, as Strohl observes, ‘Grisar does not differ fundamentally from Denifle.’ Both writers speak of the fall of Luther: and compared with that fact, the infralapsarian and supralapsarian divergences are of secondary import. He found the root of Luther’s heresy in the Reformer’s hatred of good works, and in domestic quarrel between Observants (‘the Little Saints’) and the Conventuals within the Augustian order. ‘The real origin of Luther’s teaching must be sought in a fundamental principle…his unfavorable estimate of good works.’ ‘His estrangement from what he was pleased to call ‘holiness by works’ always remained Luther’s ruling idea, just as it had been the starting point of his change of mind in monastic days.’ Thus, the cumulative impression of Grisar’s work is not much more flattering to Luther than that of Denifle. 5
Eric Gritsch stated,
…Denifle and the Jesuit Hartman Grisar, used Freudian psychology to arrive at their assessment that Luther was a monk obsessed with the lust of the flesh and a pathological manic-depressive personality….These polemical portraits were corrected in the 1940’s when an ecumenically oriented scholar, Joseph Lortz, rejected Freudian psycho-historical methods in favor of a more objective critical assessment to depict Luther as a faithful priest-professor who had succumbed to ‘subjectivism.’ 6
Jaroslav Pelikan stated,
The names of three Roman Catholic scholars who dealt with Luther are important here: Denifle, Weiss, and Hartmann Grisar….despite the scholarship, however, and despite great erudition, these biographies [of Luther] persisted in repeating the old slanders and in cultivating the old tone-deafness to the religious accents of the Reformation. And so Denifle had ‘used the framework of his book in order to perpetuate a brand of infamy so tendentious, so objectively untrue, and so frightfully vulgar that it’s equal has not been thought up in our time even by second-rate scribblers’. Weiss had ‘put together all the heresies of the 14th and 15th century from the Atlantic Ocean to the Bohemian forests in order to determine that Luther is a combination of all of them and disappears in them completely.’ And Grisar, too, had still retained ‘remnants of the vulgar-Catholic way of battling,’ even though his research had led him a long way from the earlier screeds.7
Klaus Penzel stated,
Karl Holl…tried to rescue Luther as much from Troeltsch’s alleged misrepresentations [of Luther] as from the far more obvious distortions of the Catholic polemicists Grisar and Denifle by basing his studies on the most painstakingly thorough and accurate analysis of Luther’s own writings and their various editions.8
Max L. Baeumer stated,
While conservative Catholic writers of the early 19th century declared the Reformation ‘a second fall of man’ or a sinful rebellion against the Catholic Church, Johannes Janssen, Heinrich Denifle, Hartmann Grisar, and Albert Maria Weib, the belligerent Jesuit fighters for the Catholic cause in the Wilhelminian era, used a psuedo-socialist terminology and condemned Luther’s Reformation as a ‘revolt of the proletariat,’ the ‘denegration of aristocracy and the feudal system,’ and as “suppression of the lower classes.9
Patrick W. Carey stated,
Research for this essay [Luther in an American Catholic Context] suggests that throughout the period prior to the Second Vatican Council the view of Luther was, with an exception here and there, primarily negative. In the nineteenth century, however, that view was neither as negative as that of John Cochlaeus (1479-1552) in the sixteenth century nor as that of Heinrich Denifle (1844-1905) or Hartmann Grisar (1845-1932) in the twentieth century. Nineteenth-century American Catholics viewed Luther as the leader of the "Protestant Revolt," but his personal character and motives were not assaulted as they were in the works of Denifle and Grisar. No American Catholic until the 1950s, moreover, had an understanding of Luther that was based upon a personal or systematic study of Luther's sources; most of the information on Luther derived from secondary sources, primarily foreign (French and German). Only after World War II, furthermore, did Catholic attitudes towards Luther began to shift and show some respect for his life and thought, but that shift took place among only a few individual theologians. The shift was important, however, because it helped to shape a younger generation of scholars and was part of a larger movement that led to the Second Vatican Council and that anticipated the Church's future within the ecumenical movement.10
During the nineteenth century American Catholics generally identified Luther as a religious revolutionary, but I know of nothing in American Catholic literature of the nineteenth century to match the passionate and unsubstantiated attacks on Luther's immorality or mental sickness that are found in the twentieth century works of the Dominican Church historian and Vatican archivist Heinrich Denifle and the Jesuit professor of Church history at Innsbruck Hartmann Grisar. Both authors were given great attention in the early twentieth century because of their scholarly reputations. Many early twentieth-century American Catholic scholars tended to rely upon Denifle's acknowledged scholarship and followed his judgments on Luther's moral turpitude, and/or followed Grisar on Luther's psychological weaknesses. In the twentieth century the negative views of Denifle were evident in the Catholic diocesan priest Henry George Ganss's (1855-1912) article on Luther for the Catholic Encyclopedia (1910), the most significant manifestation of American Catholic scholarship in the first half of the twentieth century. American Catholic readers of the Encyclopedia took their understanding of Luther from this source.11
V.H.H. Green says,
The evidence which Denfile presented [about Luther] was certainly impressive and his influence on anti-Lutheran writers has been continuous and considerable; but it had been marshaled in a distinctly slanted fashion He had, for instance, laid great stress on Luther's use of the word ‘concupiscentia', mistakeningly interpreting it as sexual lust. He quoted a phrase which Luther used in a letter to his wife, 'I gorge myself like a Bohemian and I get drunk like a German. God be praised. Amen', to suggest that he was a worldly man, but he did not note the context of the letter, a humorous one written to his wife when she was very worried by his poor appetite. He used a series of portraits in his first edition to show how the thin, ascetic scholar and monk became obese and unattractive; the last of his portraits, he noted, was surprisingly bestial', though the fact that it was made of the reformer after his death, and possibly after decomposition had set in, should have minimized his astonishment. Although Denifle's insistence that there was a fundamental moral Haw in his personality was questioned by the scholarly Jesuit, Hartmann Grisar, yet his interpretation of Luther was not basically different. 'The real origin of Luther's teaching', he concluded, 'must be sought in a fundamental principle ... his unfavorable estimate of good works'. While other pejorative estimates of Luther's character and work, as those of Maritain and Weijenborg, have been published, recent Catholic historians, such as Gilson, Vignaux and Johann Lortz, have shown a scholarly understanding of the man and his theology.12
Leonard Swidler states,
The practice of seeing Luther as all evil and the Catholic Church as all good continued through the centuries. The nineteenth century historian Johannes Janssen, for example, maintained that the Church had already begun a brilliant and profound reform in the fifteenth century and that this reform was suddenly disturbed in a most unwarranted manner by Luther's revolution. But the high point in controversial literature was reached in the writings of Hemnch Denifle and Hartmann Grisar shortly after the turn of the century.
For the Jesuit Hartmann Grisar, Luther was not so much a morally evil man as a mentally sick man. We should turn not our hate but our pity toward Luther the psychopath, who was subject to illusory visits by the devil and terrible fits of depression. It is granted by Protestants that Grisar went about his work with a great deal of scholarly zeal and that his work "contains a powerful denial of the old Catholic Luther-fables and calumniations as well as the deep-rooted view, most lately upheld by Denifle, according to which Luther was driven down the path of the Reformer by lust of the flesh." However, this improvement over Denifle was hardly satisfying to Protestants ; Grisar's polished style merely poured salt in the wound, and his apparent objectivity convinced no one. Without a doubt all the terrible words of Luther, full of hate, anger, "Wildheit und Rohheit" are actually found in Luther's writing's. But the complaint was raised that this was far from all that was in Luther's writings; this was only a one-sided picture, and therefore a distortion, though one with a certain refinement. In the end, "Grisar, just as Denifle, wishes to annihilate Luther.
…in a little more than a generation the attitude of leading Catholic historians toward Luther and the Reformation has changed from the criticism and polemic of Denifle and Grisar to the objectivism of Lortz, Herte, and Hessen. 13
Otto Pesch said:
It is well known that the most important works leading up to Lortz are the defamation of Luther by H. Denifle…and the pathological interpretations of Luther by H. Grisar.14
Jared Wicks calls Grisar’s books on Luther “cold and one-sided.”15 He also says,
Grisar looked at times to psychology for understanding Luther. In this account, Luther verged on neurosis as he swung from pseudo-mystical quiet to intemperate attack and near-hysteria. As Luther dealt with his maladjustments he came to hold doctrines diverging from church teaching. Late in life Luther suffered bouts of dismal depression, but then he would swing over to jocularity, frenetic work, and violent polemics. Grisar had vast factual knowledge of Luther, but he also showed a subtle talent for stirring suspicions about Luther. He repeatedly showed how problems plaguing modern Protestantism stemmed from Luther.16
Among the strongly judgmental Catholic treatments of Luther, pride of place belongs to the well-informed German Jesuit, Hartmann Grisar, whose massive original volumes are digested into the mere 600 pages of Martin Luther, His Life and Work.17
Joseph Lortz has said,
Today I would even go so far as to ask whether the Catholic scholar might not be in a better position to understand Luther adequately than the Protestant researcher. First, we can take it for granted that we have abandoned the evaluative categories of a Cochlaeus, which dominated [Roman Catholic Luther research] for over 400 years, and those of the great Denifle, and even those of Grisar (who was particularly well-versed in details).
A number of questions [concerning Luther] come to the fore here that can be grouped under such categories as "psychological introspection," "sense of responsibility," "crudity," "scrupulosity," "spiritual instability," etc. In this regard it is true that Luther suffered injustice from Grisar and Reiter, and more recently from the American Psychologist, Erik H. Erikson. but the factual situation still exists and must be critically assessed.18
James Mackinnon states:
Denifle has grossly misrepresented [Luther] in identifying [Luther’s admitting of sins] with the lusts of the flesh, and his theory that the sensual tendency ultimately led him to a sense of moral bankruptcy and induced him to take refuge in the doctrine of justification by faith alone is utterly misleading. It is not shared by reasonable Roman Catholic writers like Kiefl, who have rightly discarded the theory of Denifle and his followers Grisar, Paquier, Cristiani as untenable.19
A.G. Dickens and John Tonkin note,
…the work of two scholars whose writings dominated Roman Catholic research on the Reformation in the first two decades of the 1900’s underlines the unpredictability of historical scholarship and the complex relationship between polemical and historical interests. Heinrich Denifle and, to a lesser extent, Hartmann Grisar manifested a spirit of bitterness difficult to parallel in the history of Catholic thought; yet, paradoxically, much of the power of their attack derived from the wealth of genuine sources on which their writings were based.
…few scholars could credit [Grisar’s] work as a whole with that basic fairness he sincerely believed it to have. This was because Grisar's achievements were invariably balanced by failures. If he boldly refuted a number of palpable fables and groundless calumnies against Luther, he revivified just as many and left standing by innuendo others, which he acknowledged in the telling as unproven. He exhibited throughout a deep hostility and partiality, which led most scholars—both Catholic and Protestant—to conclude that his differences from Denifle were, in the last analysis, marginal.20

1 Richard Stauffer, Luther as Seen by Catholics, 15. Stauffer also gives another example: “We may give yet another example, this time in regard to Luther's alleged drunkenness, which illustrates Grisar's cleverness: "He has been accused of being a 'drinker'—another accusation without foundation. The fanatics and the mischief makers, the often austere anabaptists, even some catholics, ill-informed adversaries, have spread the rumours. Some polemical writers have wanted to find a pretext for this charge in certain words of Luther that they have misinterpreted. They have not understood that these were words said in fun, expressions excusable in a man known for not being always careful in his language." The case seems clear: Luther is not a drinker. But directly after these words, Grisar retreats from what he has just said: "No cases of drunkenness have ever been conclusively attested of Luther, although it is notorious that, in the German manner, he was sometimes a bit too fond of his glass of beer" (cf. E.T. Ill, pp. 294-318)” (18).

2 Ian D. Kingston Siggins, Luther (London: Harper & Row, 1972) 197.

3 James Atkinson, Martin Luther: Prophet to the Catholic Church. (WB Eerdman’s Publishing co. Grand rapids, 1983), 8.

4 James Atkinson,. Martin Luther: Prophet to the Catholic Church., 12-13.

5 Gordon Rupp, The Righteousness of God, (Great Britain: Hodder and Stoughton Publishing, 1953), 25.

6 Eric Gritsch, God’s Court Jester, Luther in Retrospect. (Fortress Press, 1983, 146)

7 Jaroslav Pelikan (editor), Interpreters of Luther. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1968), Quote contained in Pelikan’s article, “Adolph von Harnack on Luther” 261-262.

8 Jaroslav Pelikan(editor), Interpreters of Luther. From the article by Klaus Penzel, “Ernst Troeltsch on Luther,” 298.

9 Gerhard Dunnhaupt (editor) The Martin Luther Quincentenial (Michigan: Wayne State University Press) Quote from the article “Was Luther’s Reformation a Revolution?” by Max L. Baeumer p.258.

10 “Luther in an American Catholic Context” by Patrick W. Carey; Found in the book, Timothy Maschke, Franz Posset, and Joan Skocir (editors), Ad Fontes Lutheri: Toward the Recovery of the Real Luther: Essays in Honor of Kenneth Hagen’s Sixty-Fifth Birthday (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2001), 38.

11 “Luther in an American Catholic Context” by Patrick W. Carey, 44.

12 V.H.H. Green, Luther and the Reformation (New York: G.P.Putnum’s Sons, 1964) 193-195

13 Leonard Swidler, “Catholic Reformation Scholarship in Germany” Journal of Ecumenical Studies, 2 1965. 190-191, 203.

14 Otto Pesch, “Twenty Years of Catholic Luther Research” Lutheran World, 13, 1966. 304.

15 Jared Wicks (editor) Catholic Scholars Dialogue with Luther, 1.

16 Jared Wicks, Luther and His Spiritual Legacy, 19.

17 Jared Wicks, Luther and His Spiritual Legacy, 160-161.

18 Jared Wicks (editor) Catholic Scholars Dialogue with Luther, 6-7, 11.

19 James Mackinnon, Luther and the Reformation Vol. I (New York: Russell & Russell, 1962), 105.

20 A.G. Dickens and John Tonkin, The Reformation in Historical Thought (Massachusets: Harvard University Press, 1985) 200, 201.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

My 15 Minutes of Fame

I’m really not someone looking for the spotlight. I know, I know… we all like the spotlight- we all like our favorite subject: ourselves. Let’s talk about ME, right? I’ve had a lot going on, so I’d like to take my Reformation glasses off for a few seconds and just address a few personal issues.

I have been tremendously blessed by some people of late. First, I get private e-mails all the time thanking me for something I’ve written. I can’t even begin to mention everybody here- this entry would become very long. Encouraging e-mail always blows me away. I don't think we realize how important positive comments are. We do need to encourage each other.

I was actually sent some free books by one of my readers, at his expense, books I actually wanted and enjoy! You know who you are my brother, again thank you for your generosity and friendship.

Of course, the mysterious Skyman must be thanked as well. He answers just about every question I come up with, and provides valuable information that would take me years to research.

I also need to publicly thank Douglas Mabry for his uplifting comments he made about me over the years. On his blog, he has said some very kind things, found here.

Some of you may have noticed my name over on Dr. James White’s blog. James posted some very kind words here. The “cat is out of the bag” so to speak- I will be contributing articles to his website. The entire thing is a bit surreal to me. My first contribution can be found here:

Roman Catholic Conversion Stories

Dr White posted a response sent in here. I responded here.

It has never been a secret that I greatly respect Dr. White. His writings and debates have influenced me profoundly- and more than that, have helped with the growth of my faith, as I seek to learn as much as possible about Jesus Christ and His Holy Word.

I can never seem to find enough time these days. Of course, I have the “normal” responsibilities most of you should have- family and vocation. These are on the top priority list (someone should e-mail my wife to tell her I actually said this). My wife refers to my personal office, computer, and time spent blogging as the “Nether World”. Indeed, sometimes I walk away from the computer mumbling… “Is any of this the real world…Is any of this the real world…?”

I’ve begun again leading an adult Sunday School class at my church- which requires a lot of preparation. I’m always amazed with how much preparation one lecture can take. I guess there’s always the “pop in video” and then discuss it afterwards, but that just isn’t me. No, I do it the hard way. I actually talk about something for an hour. I try to research something during the week, and present an informative lesson.

Writing blog entries actually takes time as well. But most time consuming is responding to every jot and title that is given back via the blogback comments or through someone else’s blog. Now, don’t get me wrong: I enjoy the comments, but it really is impossible, given my schedule to respond to every comment. For instance, this link was provided to me yesterday. Will I have time to address it? No.

I am going to keep this blog going- I can think of around 20 things I want to write about, time allowing. But, I will probably no longer be able to address the blogback comments, unless it is something of dire importance. I even thought about turning the comments section off- but I do so much enjoy much of the feedback- and the responses can lead to further study. Given my schedule and responsibilites, I simply don't have the time to interact with the comments.


Monday, February 05, 2007

An Ancient Voice For The Day #1

A few years back over on The Areopagus discussion board, a series ran entitled, “An Ancient Voice For The Day”. The series provided brief quotes from the early church fathers. I received permission to re-run this series here, so every Monday, I’m going to do just that.

Salvian the Presbyter (5th century):
Whether men fulfill them or not is of no consequence for increasing the authority of the divine words, because it is certain that their force is derived from the person of the Lord and not from the obedience of His servants. We cannot add or take away from things whose honor is always constant because God is their author.

[Source: FC, Vol. 3, The Writings of Salvian, The Presbyter, The Four Books of Timothy to the Church, Book 3, §10 (New York: CIMA Publishing Co., Inc., 1947), p. 333. ]

For an excellent compilation of quotes of the Church fathers teaching on the primacy, sufficiency and ultimate authority of Scripture, get a copy of Holy Scripture:The Ground and Pillar of Our Faith Vol III- The Writings of the Church Fathers Affirming the Reformation Principle of Sola Scriptura.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Frank Turk on the Bible Answer Man Show

I saw that I made the headlines over on Frank Turk’s (aka CenturiOn) blog. Now, I haven’t read Frank’s blog for a long time- about a month ago I started again. On dial-up, Frank’s blog took about 14 hours to load due to the pictures and layout. Now on high speed, I’ve been visiting regularly. Great blog! If you haven’t visited, you will enjoy Frank’s world. I’ve known this guy for a few years now- I use to watch him pummel people over on the CARM boards. His posts were incredible. I never saw him lose an argument. I’ve kinda lost touch with him since he’s become a blogging superstar. But, I still treasure the candy rosary beads he sent me. You think I’m kidding?

Some of you might not know this, but a few years ago, Frank was a guest on the Bible Answer Man show. He was part of a roundtable discussion. Hank invited him to dialog with anti-Calvinist George Bryson. Some other guy was there as well. Anyway, the entire show can be heard here:

Frank Turk on The Bible Answer Man Show

Frank, a Christian marketing entrepreneur, Superhero, blogging mogul, all-around-decent guy, also made some comments on the aesthetic nature of blogs. Now, I can appreciate a well- constructed slick website or blog. But I’m a guy more interested in content. One will note, my blog here uses the simplest of all blogger templates. I don’t have a lot of fancy pictures or graphics. I just use a bunch of words and a picture here and there. I realize though, people like being entertained. They enjoy being bedazzled by images. That’s probably why I won’t spend the time to add a lot of images. Now, there’s nothing wrong with what Frank does on his blog. He has like 10 million readers or something like that. He says “boo” and get 68 comments. His content is also very good. He can make a good point and entertain at the same time.

Frank also commented on my recent review of Roman Catholic "conversions":

At any rate, James the New Jersian, AKA TQuid, is roiling the Catholics this week for their new superhero ex-Calvinist convert, and I have to admit something. The whole discussion left a bad taste in my mouth.

My thoughts on this will have to wait for another day. Stay tuned.

Hey Frank- send me more candy!