Monday, January 31, 2005

When Does Our Union With Christ’s Death Occur? The Ongoing Dialogue on Limited Atonement (Part 2)

Dr. White continues (on the topic of Galatians 2):
Now, is this not Calvary? And is not Christ's love for Paul expressed here? But if it was an undifferentiated act, without the union of the elect being considered in the expression of redeeming love therein, would it not follow that the same could be said by Pharaoh? The only way around this would be to say "who loved me [at my conversion] and gave Himself for me [on the cross]." I'm sure Dr. Svendsen will affirm that tou/ avgaph,santo,j me kai. parado,ntoj e``pe.r evmou/ refers to one act: both aorist participles refer to the self-giving of Christ upon the cross. So, if the atoning sacrifice is the very demonstration of Christ's love for Paul personally, how can the sacrifice bring forgiveness for all mankind?
I think I have sufficiently shown in part 1 of this series that our union with Christ is based in Christ’s historical work on the cross, but that union does not occur (i.e., we don’t actually “die with Christ”) until the point of belief, just as we are not actually “buried with him” or “raised with him” until the point of belief—all three of these acts are conterminous.

Moreover, I do not hold that Christ’s death on the cross was an “undifferentiated act.” Is it beyond the scope of the Scriptures to suggest that Christ may have two distinct purposes in the atonement—one for the elect (to serve as a basis for their redemption) and one for the non-elect (to serve as a basis for their condemnation)? I don’t think it is; further, I think that’s just where the evidence leads us.

Here are the issues as I see them. First, I think the limited atonement view confuses the concept of being “chosen in Christ” (en [christos]) with the concept of union “with Christ” (sun [christos]). The former refers to the locus of God’s good pleasure and is said to be eternal, whereas the latter refers to union (or “identification with”) and is said to be applied in time. Ephesians 1 makes it clear that we were chosen “in him” before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4), and that as a result we are currently “in him.” The point of the “in him” language is not to show union per se, but to show the focal point of God’s good pleasure. Anyone—indeed, anything—“in Christ” is ipso facto “blessed with every spiritual blessing” and is “lavished with the riches of his grace.” The reason for this is because Christ is the very center of God’s “good pleasure” and “kind intention.” Hence, whatever is “in Christ” by extension becomes the object of God’s good pleasure.

But it isn’t until chapter 2 that the concept of union “with Christ” appears. When we were dead in our sins, we were “made alive together with Christ” (in time and at the point of belief). At that point God raised us up “with Christ” and “seated us together with him.” This occurs also at the point of belief, and after Paul has already mentioned the “working” of God which “He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (1:19-20). In other words, the death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Christ occurred historically at a point in time; but our “death,” “burial,” “resurrection,” and “ascension” occurs at the point at which we are “saved through faith” (Eph 2:8-9).

You’ll recall we saw this same pattern in Colossians as well. Hence, when Dr. White states . . .
Regarding Galatians 2:16-20, I do not see the application made by Dr. Svendsen. Paul's sustauro,omai ("to be crucified together with") is very difficult to understand if, in fact, it is referring to an event years after Christ's death;
. . . I think the opposite point is established on exegetical grounds, not only in the text of Ephesians 2 and Colossians 2—3, but also in the Galatians 2 text.

To reiterate a point of Dr. White that I previously addressed only briefly, to wit:
and note that while Paul is indeed speaking of his life at that time, he has no problem pointing back once again to the clearly substitutionary death of Christ in the words "who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
Indeed, and as I mentioned before, I would never suggest otherwise. Our union with Christ’s death at the point of belief has an historical referent to the act of Christ on the cross. But when did Paul “die” according to Gal 2:19? “For through the Law I died to the Law, that I might live to God.” Paul here makes the same point he’s already made in Colossians 2; namely, that the point of “death” is sometime after he had experienced being “bound” by the law (“the elementary principles of the world”); hence, that death is both “with Christ” and “to the law” (or, “to the elementary principle of the world”; Col 2:20). Paul’s commentary on what it means to “die to the law” is found in the very next verse: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” The phrase “no longer (ouketi) strongly suggests (if not proves altogether) that the point at which Paul ceases to “live” (i.e., “dies”) and Christ begins to “live in” him is the same point at which he was “crucified with Christ” (i.e., died “with Christ” and “to the law”).
Dr. White continues: “And I do not believe He substitutionarily, purposefully, intentionally, out of redemptive love, bore in Himself the penalty due to the sin of Pharaoh.”
Nor do I. But could he have borne that sin to serve as the basis for the condemnation of Pharaoh, who persisted in unbelief?

Dr. White continues:
As far as I can see, either the elect were united with Christ in His death en toto, or the entire idea of substitution becomes irrelevant. I believe the reality of our election in Christ makes our union with Christ a divine reality even before our temporal existence.
But then does that same principle also apply to our “burial” with him, our “resurrection” with him, and our “ascension” with him? All of these things are said to occur at the point of belief. Are we predestined to these things? Of course we are; but I think that is a bit different from saying that they’ve already occurred or are already true of us prior to conversion.

Moreover, it seems to me that Dr. White may be inconsistent on this point. If we conclude that these things have already taken place in the elect in eternity past (“in toto”) just because they are certain to take place in time and just because Christ’s kind intention was always set on dying for his elect, then we could make that same case regarding justification and glorification as well. In God’s eyes, all he predestined he has already “justified” and “glorified” (past tense; Rom 8:30). All of that is true in the sense that the elect are certainly predestined to these things—and that they are so certain that they can be presented as a “done deal.”

But as certain as these things are to happen, Dr. White and I agree we cannot conclude that justification (much less glorification) has already been accomplished in the elect who have not yet believed. Dr. White has gone on record rejecting eternal justification. That means, as certain as it is that all the elect will be justified, and as certain as justification of the elect is well within the kind intention of his eternal will, his elect are nevertheless not actually justified in eternity past but at the point of belief. Why then must we conclude that our union with Christ in his death has taken place in eternity past just because it is certain we will experience that union with Christ in time?

Dr. White continues:
(as noted above: the eternal determines the form of the temporal, not vice-versa, though we as time-bound creatures, looking from "below," struggle to see this, and hence must allow the Word to be the lens through which we see this tremendous truth) and birth, so that in a very real sense the elect were, in fact, "crucified with Christ."
Yes, and in a very real sense the elect have already been “justified” by God. But we don’t conclude on that basis that we were eternally justified—else there would be no more reason for us to be “justified by faith.” In the same way, just because our union with Christ in his death was in the mind, intention and will of Christ in eternity past does not mean we actually experienced union with Christ in his death before the point of belief.

Dr. White continues:
When we say that the death of Christ provides the "grounds" of forgiveness, but "is not the forgiveness itself," to what do we refer? I'm sure this is not the same as saying that death of Christ makes forgiveness a "possibility." Does it not, in fact, make the experience of forgiveness in time a certainty for all who are united to Christ? I believe it does.
Let’s ask the question in the converse: If the atonement renders forgiveness a certainty, and if nothing else stands in the way of that forgiveness, then why are the elect not forgiven immediately once the work has been done? The very fact that Dr. White rejects eternal justification and recognizes a “gap” between whatever union with Christ took place in eternity past and the forgiveness of sins applied to each of the elect in time proves that he also recognizes there is an as-yet unfulfilled act of applying that forgiveness to individuals in time. What is it that prevents the application of the benefits of Christ’s death to the elect? We find in the New Testament that it is the state of unbelief that acts as the barrier to prevent a man—any man, elect or non—from enjoying the application of Christ’s death. For all the insistence from the limited atonement position that we are united with Christ in toto in eternity past and that union with Christ is all that is necessary for forgiveness of our sins, at the end of the day we both agree that the benefits of that atonement (viz., forgiveness of sins) is applied to no one who is in a state of unbelief, elect or non. Hence, there is a condition (of sorts) to be met before that atonement is applied, and that condition is faith.

Here we both acknowledge that the elect will unswervingly meet that condition because faith is granted to them by God, and that the non-elect will just as certainly not meet it. But that just proves my prior point that there is a difference to be made between the atonement itself (a finished work) and the forgiveness of sins that springs from that atonement but is conditioned on faith. Hence, if even the elect, who are most assuredly included in the extent of the atonement, can be called “children of wrath” and still remain unforgiven as long as they remain in unbelief—even though the work of Christ on the cross is complete—then, of course, there can be no objection to the notion that the non-elect are also included in the extent of the atonement, but that since their state of unbelief will continue perpetually, then the benefits of Christ’s death are commensurately withheld from them perpetually. In my opinion, there can be no sound objection to this view that does not result in insuperable inconsistencies.

Dr White continues:
Now, does it truly follow that if one believes Christ's death makes the forgiveness of the elect a certainty through union and substitution, that one should logically believe in eternal justification due to the phrase "children of wrath"? I do not believe so.
I, on the other hand, think this conclusion is inescapable. If, as Dr. White asserts, forgiveness of sins is “through union with Christ,” and if that union with Christ took place in toto in eternity past, then it follows that the forgiveness also took place in toto in eternity past—or at the very least complete forgiveness of sins for all the elect would have had to occur at the time of the cross and no later. According to the limited atonement view, we were united with Christ in his death in eternity past, and if being united to Christ in his death means that we have complete and unfettered forgiveness (as Dr. White seems to imply), then that leads inescapably to the conclusion that all the elect have been forgiven all their sins and have therefore already been placed in right standing (“justified”) by God, likely in eternity past but definitely no later than the point of the cross.

In our next installment we will wrap up our thoughts concerning union with Christ, address the meaning of "reconciliation" in 1 Corinthians 5, and point out what could be the greatest weakness of the limited atonement position; namely, the answer to the question of how a man can be condemned for rejecting the gospel if the gospel is not offered to him in the first place. I have not yet read a satisfying answer to this question from the limited atonement camp. I will elaborate next time.

Brief Interlude

I'm blogging from home today due to my being snowbound in the mountains of Colorado. It's been snowing all weekend, and what little hope I had yesterday of making it out were dashed this morning when I awoke and saw that it was still snowing (we're at about 16-20 inches at this point--not an impossible trek with my trusty Jeep Wrangler, but dangerous driving nevertheless). I'm using a very slow laptop with a dialup connection--broadband has a tendency of spoiling you.

In any case, before I post the second in the series on limited atonement, I want to clarify one point from the first installment. I have decided to remove the section on Romans 5 from the first installment. The reason I've decided to do that is because, although I believe a case for universal atonement can be made from that passage, the exegetical issues surrounding that text lend themselves too much to a protracted discussion on that passage. Rather than getting bogged down in the details of exegetical options for that passage (I realize a case can be made for the other side as well)--and as a result, risk losing focus on the main points of this discussion--I've opted to remove Romans 5 from the blog and to forego the discussion altogether. The second installment follows (translated, is found above) this entry.

Friday, January 28, 2005

"Interpretation" and "Accurate Representation"

Paul Owen of posted this:
One of the issues which is discussed by Anthony Lane in his book, Justification by Faith in Catholic-Protestant Dialogue, is how close the Protestant and Roman Catholic views on grace and merit can be brought together. Despite the caricatures which are common in Protestant critiques, Roman Catholic views on merit can be interpreted in such a way as to satisfy Protestant concerns. . . . The idea of congruous merit following our justification is not really inconsistent with the Bible, nor with Reformational theology.
Quoting Lane (approvingly), Owen continues:

"There appears to be broad agreement [between Protestants and Roman Catholics]except over the question of whether eternal life is a 'merited' reward. This need be no more than a linguistic difference. . . . This does not mean that the Catholic and Protestant positions are identical but, granted the qualifications of this paragraph [which exclude strict or condign merit], the two positions are no longer so far apart" (p. 210).
Owen sums up the matter this way:
Why are such careful distinctions not allowed more often to have an impact in our "Reformed" polemics against the Roman Catholic Church?
Owen surmises the answer to his own question . . .
Probably, because once you allow such nuances into the picture, everything gets messy and it becomes harder to demonize Roman Catholics with charges of legalism and works righteousness. The masses who consume the stuff that pours forth from the keyboards of antagonistic "Reformed" pop-apologists have little patience for presentations which avoid straw-men and are careful to accurately present opposing views.
Here’s an alternative answer: Perhaps the attempt to find agreement over the gospel where there really is no agreement is not really a “careful distinction” after all, but rather a post-modern attempt to deconstruct the importance of biblical truth in as subtle and acceptable a way as possible. Paul was not concerned with such nuanced distinctions in the case of the Judaizers—and make no mistake about it, the rationale of Owen, Lane, et al, could be applied equally to the theology of the Judaizers of Paul’s own day. Weren’t the Judaizers simply concerned about resolving the “tension” between works and grace? And weren’t they simply being more nuance than the over-simplistic defend-the-gospel-at-all-costs approach of Paul and his cohorts? Why should we suffer the vitriolic pop-polemics of simpletons like Paul in their attempts to demonize the sincere efforts of these Judaizers?

As those in my Jude Bible study can attest, there is tremendous pressure these days to abandon the “earnest struggle” for “the faith” that was “once for all delivered to the saints,” and that pressure continues to grow. I’m all for “presentations which avoid straw-men and are careful to accurately present opposing views.” I strive to do this in my own work, and I don’t think anyone who has read, say, my book on Mary can justly suggest otherwise. But note well, once we’ve “accurately represented” the opposing view, let’s be just as diligent to “contend earnestly” for the truth, and call a spade a spade.

Take for instance the statement, “Despite the caricatures which are common in Protestant critiques, Roman Catholic views on merit can be interpreted in such a way as to satisfy Protestant concerns.” Is it really “accurately representing” the opposing view to be so concerned with finding creative ways to “interpret” that view “in such a way as to satisfy Protestant concerns” that at the end of the day we end up ignoring the real meaning of it? When I say “Jesus is God,” that means something entirely different from what a Jehovah’s Witness means by that phrase. The words are identical, but the meaning is different. When I say “Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” I mean something entirely different from what a Mormon means by that same phrase. And when I say “we are saved by grace through faith,” I mean something different from what a Roman Catholic means when he uses that same phrase. Can I “interpret” the phrases of the Mormon, the Jehovah’s Witness and the Roman Catholic in a more favorable light? Of course! But how does it “accurately represent” the Mormon view to superimpose my meaning on his words? How does it “accurately represent” the Jehovah’s Witness’s view to superimpose my meaning on his words? How does it “accurately represent” the Roman Catholic view to superimpose my meaning on his words?

The answer is, it doesn’t. Looking for ways to “interpret” the opposing view in a more favorable light—in essence, superimposing a foreign meaning on those words and concepts—is not to be equated with “accurately representing” that view.

When Does Our Union With Christ’s Death Occur? The Ongoing Dialogue on Limited Atonement (Part 1)

I have prepared a four-part response to James White's latest series on limited atonement. I will be distributing these over the course of the next four business days (read, no weekend posts), which will take us into next Wednesday.

Dr. White writes:
Regarding Galatians 2:16-20, I do not see the application made by Dr. Svendsen. Paul's sustauro,omai ("to be crucified together with") is very difficult to understand if, in fact, it is referring to an event years after Christ's death;
I want to make it clear that my prior point regarding the exact point at which the elect are united with Christ in his death is really only incidental to my larger point that only the elect are united with Christ in his death. I do not think holding to the fact that only the elect experience union with Christ in his death necessitates a specific view of just when that union took place. Having said that, I do think the New Testament is demonstrably in favor of experiencing union with Christ at the point of belief, not in eternity past (except perhaps in a predestinarian sense).

Having said that, I’m not sure why viewing union with Christ as something that occurs at the point of belief would be any more difficult to understand than other similar statements Paul makes. Paul asserts that we were “buried with him” at the point of baptism (Col 2:12), that we were “raised up with him through faith” (v. 12). Our being “made alive with him” (our spiritual resurrection) occurred only after we were “dead in our transgression” (v. 13). While it is true that the certificate of debt consisting of the decrees that were hostile to us was nailed to the cross (v. 14), the cancellation of that debt in terms of the forgiveness that is applied to us does not occur until he “made us alive with him” (v. 13).

Hence, when we get to v. 20: “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world,” we understand Paul to be recapping what he has already explained in vv. 12-14; namely, that all the things we are said to have done “with Christ” are personal applications to us in time and at the point of belief, even though it happened historically to Christ at an earlier point in time. Paul insists that our death “with Christ” was also a death “to the elementary principles of the world”; that is, the “decrees that were against us and that were hostile to us” (v. 14), suggesting there was a period of time when we were subject to these things (i.e., when we were under the law). In other words, our “death with Christ” occurs only after our enslavement to the “elementary principle of the world,” because that death is not only “with” someone (viz., Christ) but “to” something (i.e., decrees that were hostile to us; namely, the law and any supplemental human legalism). That indicates that our union with Christ’s death occurs at the point of belief, not in eternity past.

Paul expands this point in 3:1: “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God,” and he connects this point of “being raised” (which “resurrection,” as we have already seen, occurs at the point of belief, 2:13) with his next point: “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (3:3).

Paul makes very similar points in his letter to the Ephesians (which is no surprise since he wrote those letters nearly back to back). In Ephesians 2 we are told that our former state was one of sin and hostility toward God. We were “dead” in sin (2:1), we “formerly walked according to the course of this world” (v. 2), we “formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh” (v. 3), and we were “by nature children of wrath” (v. 3), just as the rest of the world. But God, because of his eternal love and mercy toward us, “made us alive together with Christ” (v. 5), and he “raised us up with him” (v. 6).

The question becomes, When did the “making alive with Christ” and the “raising up with him” occur? We know from the context that it was after our “former way of life” (vv. 1-3). We also know that Paul connects these actions with the point of belief: “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” In other words, our being “made alive” with him and our being “raised up” with him are both inextricably linked to the point of belief. Hence, there should be no difficulty at all with viewing our “dying” with him as part and parcel of that event, occurring in time and at the point of belief. That, I believe, is the language of the New Testament.

Dr. White writes:
and note that while Paul is indeed speaking of his life at that time, he has no problem pointing back once again to the clearly substitutionary death of Christ in the words "who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
No, of course he doesn’t; just as Paul, in his insistence that we were “raised with him” through faith, has no problem pointing to the historical reality of the Resurrection of Christ (Eph 1:20). The historical events serve as the basis of our union with him in his “burial,” his “resurrection,” his “ascension,” and yes his “death” (which is presupposed by all the others); and this union occurs through faith.

Along these same lines, it is clear that the non-elect are going to be condemned for their rejection of Christ and his gospel. For instance, 2 Thess 1:8-9 says that Christ will “deal out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction.” Jesus himself says: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (John 3:18). In other words, those who reject, disobey and refuse to believe the gospel are judged for that rejection, disobedience and refusal to believe. But if the offer of the gospel does not properly extend to them in the first place, how can they rightly be judged for rejecting it? One cannot “reject” something that isn’t offered to him.

Indeed, what else explains why the non-elect who reject the gospel only after strongly considering it are said to be under a greater condemnation? Peter puts it this way:

“For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them” (2 Pet 2:20-21).

With this, the writer of Hebrews concurs:

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame” (Heb 6:4-16).

As well as . . .

“Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” (Heb 10:28-29).

In each case, the person in question embraced Christianity if only for a short while. In each case, the person is non-elect and falls away afterwards. As a result, in each case the condemnation is said to be more severe (“it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,” “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve . . . ?”). The question remains, Why is the punishment (and by extension the offense) more severe than that of the typical unbeliever? We are told why: The apostates in question have “come to a knowledge of the truth” and then “turned from the holy commandment delivered to them.” That “holy commandment,” of course, is the gospel itself; and that gospel was “delivered to them.” What makes the offense so great here is that they initially embraced the gospel but then rejected it. But that necessarily implies that they were obligated to believe it and to continue in it. As it is, their rejection of the gospel is tantamount to “again crucifying to themselves the Son of God,” “putting Him to open shame,” “trampling underfoot the Son of God,” “insulting the spirit of Grace,” and “regarding as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified”; and, as a result, their “last state has become worse for them than the first.”

But how can they be obligated to believe the gospel if the gospel isn’t extended to them and doesn’t apply to them? Why would they be guilty of a greater crime than others of the non-elect who merely reject the gospel out of hand with no consideration of it? All unbelievers (all non-elect) will be judged for refusing the gospel (2 Thess 1:8-9; John 3:18); but these particular men will undergo a more severe judgment because they actually embraced the truth before rejecting it. None of this makes sense (in the case of either category of the non-elect) if the command to believe the gospel does not apply to them. But if the command to believe the gospel does indeed apply to them, then there has to be a basis for that command in the atonement of Christ.

On Monday I will post part 2 of this series.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

New Archeological Find Confirms Old Testament Timing of Edomite Kingdom . . .

Attention Shroud Buffs

The BBC and other news organizations are reporting that prior carbon-14 dating performed on the Shroud of Turin (which dated the shroud somewhere between A.D. 1260 to 1390 ) was actually performed on a "patch" placed there in medieval times by those who attempted to "fix" the shroud after it suffered fire damage. The latest estimate is that the shroud is somewhere between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

I'm hoping this isn't true . . .

This is being reported on the Christianity Today blob:

Postal Service Denies Hanegraaff Fundraising Letter Regarding Lost Mail

The world of "churchianity" is already filled with bogus fund-raising scandals--we certainly don't need another one.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Another Reason Not to Use the Catholic Encyclopedia

A few days ago a new member of the Areopagus Forum of the NTRMin Discussion Board asked for help in answering a claim his Roman Catholic friend was making regarding the interpretation of the Last Supper passages in Matt 26:28 and parallels (see link).

The key point here was that the Catholic Encyclopedia article on the “Sacrifice of the Mass” insisted there is a "grammatical rule" at play which demands we see in the present-tense form of the word ekchynnomenon a “present pouring out” of Jesus blood right there at the table, allegedly “proving” the Roman Catholic dogma of transubstantiation. The grammatical rule in question was purported to have come from Blass’s Grammar of New Testament Greek.

I responded with skepticism here, and promised to look it up as I found time.

Well, look it up I did, and the results are quite amusing. Here is my latest response to this. The moral is, don’t ever trust a Roman Catholic polemist when he tells you “but the Greek says x.”

Friday, January 21, 2005

Humorous Thought for the Day

Speaking of reading through the Bible in a year . . .

There is a verse that I have not yet come across in this year's reading, but I always get a good chuckle out of it when I do. It is this one:

"Now Moses was a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth" (Num 12:3).

If you're unsure why that verse is so humorous, just think about who wrote Numbers.

Inspirational Thought for the Day

I am once again embarking on reading through the Bible in a year. I began this habit about twenty years ago, just a year or two after my conversion; and apart from a few sabbatical years have accomplished it every year during that time frame. One of my favorite narratives (and one which I just read) is the story of Joseph after he was sold by his brothers and carried off to Egypt. I never get tired of reading about how the Lord was with him in his rise to greatness in spite of the sinful act of his brothers. It is remarkable that even though he was thrown into prison over false charges, and remained there many years, we're told that God was with him even there. Most of us would no doubt conclude in similar circumstances that God had abandoned us and that injustice had prevailed. But not Joseph; his steadfast faith in God, through all that he was unjustly handed, sculpted his character.

My absolute favorite section of this narrative is when Joseph's brothers are forced due to the famine to go to Egypt to buy grain, and Joseph pretends not to recognize them. It always brings a tear to me eye when I read afterwards that "Joseph could no longer control himself" and he revealed himself to his brothers and let them know that he was now lord over all of Egypt and that they (his brothers) were in good hands. What a reunion that must have been!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

LaHaye's Protest is "Left Behind" by Tyndale House

Apparently, Tim LaHaye doesn't like the fact that there are views of end-time events that differ from his. Now, don't get me wrong; I don't agree with either LaHaye or Hanegraaff's reading of Revelation--and frankly, I don't think the Revelation can be held up as a decisive reference point for anyone's view of eschatology. I just don't think Tyndale House has any obligation to be held captive to one particular reading of it.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Selected Review of the CAI Study Bible

I was perusing CAI's site after reading Jame's White's blog reference to the upcoming debate between Bob Sungenis and Gerry Matatics, when I happened to notice the advertisement regarding the CAI Study Bible. The CASB (as CAI calls it) makes the following claim:
The CASB gives you an updated version of the Douay-Rheims Bible, the most accurate and authoritative Catholic translation available. The CASB replaces some archaic 16th century words with more precise words. The grammar and syntax of the original Greek and Hebrew are analyzed in conjunction with the Latin Vulgate for the most accurate translation.
Click here for a sample page from the CASB.

The sample page above caught my attention because it has to do with the interpretation of Matt 26:26-28 (the Last Supper text). In particular, this note on v. 28 from the study Bible intrigued me:
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is being poured out . . .”

[Greek: ekchunomenon] a present participle which follows the present tense verb [esti = “is”] in the clause, “this is my blood.” The present participle is an action in progress or simultaneous with the action of the principal verb. This means that the blood, at the time Jesus is speaking, is presently being poured out. As Catholic dogma specifies, the blood of Jesus is under the appearance of wine. This is supported by the addition of the article [to] in the phrase [to peri pollon ekchunomenon] which sets off the event as a present occurrence (i.e., that which is in the act of being poured out for many). [Italics in original]
Just a few cursory observations. First, the Greek word is not ekchunomenon but rather ekchunnomenon (two nus, not one). Not a huge issue; just a Sungenis scribal gloss. Second (a bigger issue), is that in his "updated version" of the DRB, Sungenis failed to explain why he left in the word "new" (kaines) with "testament." While there are a few manuscripts that support the reading, it's clearly an addition from a scribe who inserted it based on his memory of Luke's account, where kaines ("new") is used with diatheke ("covenant"). Sungenis claims that the DRB is "the most accurate and authoritative Catholic translation available." He adds, "The grammar and syntax of the original Greek and Hebrew are analyzed in conjunction with the Latin Vulgate for the most accurate translation." But if the Latin is what's really important in translation and exegesis, why engage in a pretense over the importance of the meanings of Greek words?

The biggest issue by far is what Sungenis does with the verse. He makes a huge theological claim regarding the present tense of the participle. In Sungenis' view, the "pouring" of Jesus blood occurs as an attendant circumstance to the saying about the blood; that is to say, they occur at the same time (Jesus' blood is presently being poured out as he speaks). That, in turn, is implicitly used as a "proof" that transubstantiation is taking place.

The problem is, this same verb occurs in identical form (present passive participle) just a few chapters earlier in Matt 23:35, where Jesus again talks about "blood" being "poured out":

"That upon you may come all the just blood that hath been shed upon the earth, from the blood of Abel the just, even unto the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachias, whom you killed between the temple and the altar" (Douay-Rheims).

I used the DR version because that's the version on which Sungenis bases his study Bible. Here we see that ekchunnomenon, although in the present tense, is translated as a past action. And this is the case even though the main (principal) verb ("[upon you] may come") is itself not a past-tense verb, but a future-referring subjuctive verb. Hence, using Sungenis' analysis, since the final judgment of the Pharisees (in which they are held responsible for all of the righteous blood shed on the earth) has not yet occured, and since the subordinate verb ("[blood] has been shed") is technically a present tense verb and therefore "simultaneous with the action of the principal verb," then the action of the present tense verb ("[blood] has been shed") should not have yet occured. But Jesus indicates the shedding of "righteous blood" has already occurred since it is contained within the covers of the Hebrew Old Testament: "from Abel to Zechariah."

It is not so much the tense that is important in the Greek verb as the context. Present-tense verbs are sometimes past-referring or future-referring. Past- (aorist-) tense verbs are sometimes present referring or future referring. All depends on what is demanded by the context. And a simple appeal to the tense of the verb to make a theological point as weighty as transubstantiation is meaningless by itself. In the case of Matt 26:28, the verb is clearly future referring; and to translate it as "is currently being poured out" is simply naive.

God's Politics

One of the hallmarks of Jesus' ministry was how it impacted the world. I'm not here referring to the world as a planet or even all of humankind; I'm referring rather to the godless world system and those who are part of it who oppose the truth. Jesus was very candid about what we can expect from that system. He made statments like:

"The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil" (Jn 7:7)

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. . . . If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you" (Jn 15:18-19).

His disciples held the same view of course:

"Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you" (1 Jn 3:13)

Last night I watched the Daily Show as Jon Stewart interviewed Jim Wallis, author of God's Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It. Wallis claimed on the show to be an "Evangelical Christian," and then proceded to spout some of the worst universalist, works-based religious nonsense I have ever heard. His "conversion," it seems, occurred when he finally took to heart a highly dubious interpretation of Matt 25:31-46. When Jon Stewart (who is Jewish) jokingly acknowledged that he knew he couldn't go to heaven as a Jew but asked whether there might be some place "in the neighborhood" of heaven where Jews could go, Wallis responded soberly that it doesn't matter whether you are Christian or Jew, as long as you're feeding the poor and visiting those in prison per Matthew 25. Of course, Wallis received round after round of applause from the audience when he said things like this (and he didn't seem to say anything the audience didn't like).

Here's a sure-fire way of knowing whether you've got the right view of Jesus and the right message of the gospel. Get yourself invited on the Daily Show (or some similar show), and during the interview proclaim your understanding of Jesus and the gospel. Then wait for the reaction. Does the audience cheer? If so, there's no doubt about it--you've got the wrong message.

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God" (James 4:4).

Wallis is a member of Sojourners; an organization that originated at my Alma Mater, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. However, the fact that it was conceived at Trinity is really only incidental and does not reflect Trinity's mission or values. It is the timeframe of Sojourners' birth that is much more significant--the early 1970s, right in the heart of the Vietnam era and the reactionary "Jesus Movement" that resulted in the "peace and social justice" movement (there always seems to be some "hippy cause" associated with these things). In any case, Wallis and his cronies are Evangelical in name only. Unfortunately, being Evangelical in name only is much more the rule these days than the exception.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A CT Book Review on T.U.L.I.P.

Nathan Bierma writes an interesting review of Richard Mouw's book, Calvinism in the Las Vegas Airport: Making Connections in Today's World. I'd tell you more about it, but I'm still reeling over the fact that I found something theological on Christianity Today's website.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Where Do These Guys Come From?

I was reading the comments section of DA's blog and happened across a comment made by yet another caustic RC epologist, I. Shawn McElhinney, who has bragged about his imposing physical stature and has offered to use it to "beat me up." When I looked at the profile he has posted on his blog, I couldn't help but notice his "interest" section. Here it is:
Some interests listed in alphabetical order:
Alcohol,Apologetics,Art,Automobiles,Baseball,Blackjack,Beer, (import),Blogging,Books,Business,Cats, Chai,Chess,Catholic Church,Cigars,Computers,Cribbage,Dancing, Dialogue,Dogs,Dominicans,Evangelization, Ethnic Foods and Cultures, (European,Mediterranean,Oriental,etc.), Exercise Science,Family,Fishing,Football, Guitars,Heavy Duty High Intensity Training,Hiking, History (various genres),Incense,Irish stuff,Ladies,Mass,Mexico, Monsoons,Nationalism (within limits), Nightcaps (not the hat), Orthodox Churches,Opinions,Philosophy, Photography,Politics,Prayer,PuertoVallarta, Reading, Real Estate,Red Wine, Ressourcement, Tea,Technology (within limits),Tequila (various flavours),Teriyaki, Theology (various genres),Thomism, Travelling,Ukrainian things (food,Churches,etc.), United States,Vatican,Whiskey,Yesterday.
Just to recap, this is a Roman Catholic apologist. Of those things that he includes among his "interests" are: Alcohol, Beer, Nightcaps (not the hat), Red Wine, Tequila (various flavours), and Whiskey. Isn't that list just a tad bit "heavy" on the drinking side? I wonder if he plans to put himself into a drunken stupor before he comes to beat me up? Or perhaps he was already in one when he wrote his comments? We can't really know, I guess, but that certainly is some list. And he certainly has given credence to the old saying: "Wherever you find three or four good Catholics, there's bound to be a fifth."

One More Time . . .

. . . then I’m through with this for a while. DA has posted an old email I wrote to him in which I apparently used the word “resolve” in reference to certain terms I had used of Roman Catholic epologists several years ago. I believe I called my opponents’ views “stupid,” or some such thing, in response to some insult they issued to me. The statement in question is this one: “From this point on I have resolved not to lower myself to be moved by that kind of insult." I can’t verify whether I did in fact use this word, or whether DA modified the exchange as he has done so often in past exchanges.

But it doesn’t matter. DA holds out this example as though it somehow mirrors the kind of oath he has taken. He then cites an example that occurred 13 months later in which I actually referred to the “stupidity” and “nonsense” of some people who just don’t seem to be able to understand a point no matter how carefully you explain it to them. DA concludes that he, in his solemn-oath breaking over the past two weeks—indeed, over the past several years—is doing nothing different from what I did here. Of course, it’s actually worlds apart, and if DA and his cronies can’t see that, that’s no surprise.

Why is it different? Because my “resolve” is still meaningful. Indeed, I wake up every morning and resolve in my heart to live in a way that is pleasing to God. What Christian is there that doesn’t implicitly resolve to do this? Does that mean we will always succeed. No, of course not. And why not? Is it because we didn’t see any real value in that resolve, or that we didn’t take it seriously in the first place? No. It’s because we are weak, and because in moments of weakness we don’t always do what we have implicitly resolved to do.

But here’s what we don’t do in these kinds of resolutions. We don’t systematically seek out opportunities to break them. Yet that is just what DA has done in his “resolution.” He has written what can only be considered an “official resolution” to cease interaction with us “anti-catholics,” and he has done this no less than three times over the course of the past five years. And yet he has systematically broken those resolutions as though they don’t even exist! Can this simply be written off as a moment of weakness? No one is criticizing DA for writing his first resolution and subsequently breaking it. That would have been considered a product of weakness, and we should have seen one of two results from it: either we would hear from DA only rarely when from time to time he succumbed to a moment of weakness and just had to write about us, or we would hear of him renouncing writing silly resolution statements that he can’t keep. Both of those options would have been understandable and either one would have been acceptable.

But DA didn’t do either. Instead, he simply ignored the first resolution as though he had never made it. When he was reminded of it, he then wrote a second resolution statement resolving that this time he would made good on his resolution (why wasn’t the first one enough?). What did he do next? You guessed it. He systematically went about his apologetic activities the same way he had always done in the past, completely ignoring the second resolution as though it didn’t exist. But even then we didn’t make an issue of his resolutions, aside from pointing out briefly that DA was not adhering to them.

So now DA makes a third resolution at the end of 2004, and the gist of that resolution is identical to the first two. So what’s the first order of business in 2005 for DA? You guessed it; systematically break the resolution as though it had never been written.

Can that type of thing legitimately be chalked up to “a moment of weakness”? Of course not. It’s ridiculous even to suggest such a thing. DA’s violations of his “resolution” are systematic and premeditated violations. My violations of the "resolution" not to refer to my opponents' views as "stupid"--or any other resolution I may make and subsequently break--are moments of weakness. DA intends to violate his resolution, even when he’s reminded of it. There is no such intent in my case. So, DA’s supposed “parallel” to a “resolve” I made years ago, to which I still hold and which I still strive to keep (even though in moments of weakness I may sometimes falter) is really nothing of the kind. It’s really just another "strategy of deceit."

Oh, and I would be remiss if I didn't here point out that for all the trouble DA has gone through to mislead his readers into thinking that his systematic breaking of his resolution is no different from the giving in to a moment of weakness on my part, he has once again . . . you guessed it . . . systematically violated his resolution statement.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Dave Armstrong Now Desperately Grasping at Straws

DA's meltdown is nearly complete. Following his ceremonious, posthaste departure from the "anti-anti-catholic" apologetics scene spurred on by his utter inability to answer James White's exegetical critique of DA's "Catholic Verses," DA posted his now infamous "resolution" never to engage anti-catholics again. This, remember, was the third such resolution he has made within a five-year span; and in each case (including the most recent one) he broke that resolution almost immediately after declaring it.

My constant pointing this out to the public seems to have proved too much for poor DA. He can no longer respond to this issue (on which he's clearly been exposed), and so what does he do? He digs up an age-old, semi-tongue-in-cheek article that I wrote over five years ago, but which was not linked to my website except for a very short period of time. It's a diversion tactic. What's my "lack of charity" got to do with DA's lack of honesty? Nothing. But if DA can change the subject, then he can take the spotlight off himself and "get even" with me all at the same time.

The article DA is citing was a response to an extremely rancid and vitriolic Roman Catholic apologist, Art Sippo. Anyone who has ever had an encounter with Sippo can readily testify to what I am saying. What follows is the text from the series of emails I received (unsolicited) from Art Sippo and which prompted my short-lived article. Here is the part DA conveniently left out:

"It has come to my attention that the honor of Our Lady is being desecrated by the poltroon Eric Svendsen. Much as I loath to soil myself by dealing with him, I give him the following open challenge. . . . I am waiting. God is watching. Put up or shut up, Eric.

"Cut the nonsense, Eric. Put up or shut up. I have no desire to trade insults with you and I am even less inclined to read your ignorant ravings. . . . You know, Eric, if you were a man and not a coward, a liar, and a poltroon, you would answer my challenge. Running to others of your ilk to brag about your inability to answer a simple question just goes to show how desperate you are."

"C'mon young man. Put me in my place. Show me the quotation. If you can't do that, then even these people will be embarrassed for you. Quit stalling. Put up or shut up. . . . Eric, I asked a question. All you are doing is finding creative ways to refuse to answer it. You are insulting and arrogant. I am only giving you back the same guff you give everyone else who opposes you. I am afraid that you can dish it out but you just can't take it."

"Wait a minute there, sissy-boy. You have been called out. You don't get to be removed without either answering the challenge or conceding. I am giving you the opportunity to do the right thing or to be branded as coward. If you want to run away, it just proves that you can't defend your position, and you lose by default. You can lose with grace or disgrace. Which will it be?"

"I praise God that I am not lost in the darkness of the protestant lie and that I live in the light of Catholic truth. At least I can face my opponents with integrity and answer their questions honestly. It is what my religion has taught me to do."

"He is making a big deal out of a simple question. I am sorry if he gets offended by being challenged, but that is what happens when you strut around the net acting tough. Someone asks you to step outside and settle the matter man-to-man."

"As a soldier, I must live in a differnet [sic] world than Eric does. By running away and avoiding the issue, he is acting like a coward. He should just answer the question and be done with it. It is making him look bad."

"I know I won't ever take him seriously again. . . .The coward dies a thousand deaths; the brave man only one. . .The coward always hides behind his ego when ther [sic] real issue is the truth."

"Go slink off in the darkness of your satanic Lord's protection and hide from me, you coward. My challenge stands and you have run away shamfully [sic]. Now everyone knows what kind of creature you really are. I pity you and will pray for your conversion. . . . This whole charade of bullying Catholics in the name of evangelism is merely for your self agrandizement [sic] and egotism, isn't it? And you wonder why I have no respect for you and your fellow bigots? . . . I know who my Savior is and who is his enemy. You are in serious need of repentence [sic] before it is too late."

"Hey Eric! I got a better idea. Why don't you go tell your Mama on us and REALLY get us in trouble. Got news for you, bud. You are a public figure and you spout your nonsense on the open web. You are fair game. If you don't want to hear from me,fine. You have 2 choices. Either answer my challenge like a man, or block me with your mail controls. Meanwhile, I remain undefeated, while you...well he who snivels and runs away gets to snivel another day."

"Oooo...Pseudopodeo slithers out to insult, defame, deceive, and confuse once again! The stars are right and dead Cthulhu lies dreaming... James, give it a rest. Your little protégé, Eric the Yellow, (whom you are making twice as fit for...well you know) can fight his own battles without your mindless babbling. Until you are man enough to face me on the dais and debate mano-a-mano, I can't be bothered with you."

"Of course. Bill Jefferson Clinton (let's just call him BJ) is a good prot[estant]. . . . Art Sippo MD, Anathema, sit! Good Dog, My Anathema AMDG"

So, DA is simply misleading his readers by suggesting it was I who was being "uncharitable" in an exchange in which I was mostly minding my own business. But that's just what DA does best--he misleads, and he usually accomplishes that by focusing on half-truths (that's the "strategy of deceit" that marks the heretic). I'm certain his cronies will fall in line as they always do; but for the fairminded reader, you now have the truth.

Moreover, Dave Armstrong did not find that article by browsing my website, because although it was still on the server, it hadn't been linked to my website for about five years. Instead, he performed a site search on some key word or phrase, and pulled it up that way. But that just shows you how desperate DA really is. Who does that? Who, outside of a very desperate individual, performs a site search of someone else's writings, and decides to post an obscure piece that has absolutely nothing to do with the current issue and that isn't even posted for public viewing on the site itself?

Oh, and by the way; in all the excitement, I would hate for anyone to miss the fact that by posting this latest smokescreen DA has once again (you guessed it) violated his solemn-oath resolution.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Jonathan Prejean Distinguishes Himself By Defending the Indefensible

One of the regular “commenters” at DA’s blog is a man named Jonathan Prejean. I don’t normally respond to mere commenters of blogs, but this one struck me as so misguided that something needs to be said. He thinks my last blog “presented a darn good defense for Dave.”

I wrote: "There are just a few problems with DA's quote. The biggest problem with it is the fact that DA (as usual) rips my words out of context. I was not referring to pointing out DA’s tendency to lie and distort the fact. I will certainly continue to do that. I was instead referring to taking his theological and exegetical points seriously, and interacting with them as though he is a force to be reckoned with (he’s not).” Prejean responded:

Isn't that exactly what Dave said he was going to do?
No, it isn’t at all what DA said he was going to do—three times now. Here are the statements from his many “solemn oaths” again. Try to pay attention this time.

I will continue to simply document and record the insults of anti-Catholics towards me.
Has DA “simply” documented the “insults”? Nope.

I will only record personal insults, in my ongoing effort to document exactly how anti-Catholics usually "argue" their ludicrous case.
Has DA “only” recorded the “insults”? Nope.

I will not counter-reply at all
Has DA “counter replied”? Yes.

I have decided it is time to cease interacting with them altogether.
Has DA “ceased interacting” with us “altogether”? Nope.

I feel that "enough is enough" and I can move on to some serious discussion with folks who want to truly dialogue, rather than condescendingly lecture, pompously preach, and insult.
Has DA “moved on”? Nope.

I've had enough. My patience is exhausted. Life is too short to waste any more of my time with nonsense such as this.
Has DA “wasted more time” with us? Yes.

So I simply document their insults, and let people decide for themselves if such material is fitting (and ethical) in the midst of intelligent discourse.
Has DA “simply documented” and allowed people to “decide for themselves”? Nope.

Has DA mentioned James White since 2001? Yes.

He ought to be *utterly* ignored now. I'm just now realizing that, late in the game
Has DA “utterly ignored” James White since 2001? Nope.

But enough is enough. We need to wash our hands of Bishop White once and for all

Has DA “washed his hands” of James White “once and for all” since 2001? Nope.

So starting immediately, I resolve to neither interact with, nor to even mention at all, James White and Tim Enloe. They don't deserve any further attention or notoriety
Has DA ceased to “interact with,” or “mention” James White since 2001? Nope.

Furthermore, I am through with debating all anti-Catholics (i.e., ones who deny the Christian status of Catholicism), from this moment.
Has DA ceased “debating with all anti-Catholics” since “that moment” in 2001? Nope.

The only exception I will allow myself is if one or both of these men make a profound retraction of slanders and gross errors of fact in their past presentation. Of course, at that point I will interact with them, as a function of charity, mercy, and forgiveness, and urge others to, as well.
Has any of us made “a profound retraction of slander and gross errors of fact” in our past presentations? Nope. Did DA swear that this would be the “only exception” that would lead to further interaction with or mention of us since 2001? Yes.

If you think I *can't* keep this resolve because of the supposed "obsession" you think I have, then watch me. You will be in for a big surprise.

Did DA “keep this resolve” and avoid the “obsession” we thought he had since 2001? Nope. Did we "watch"? Yes. Were we “surprised”? Nope.

It's time for me to move on. I no longer have the *patience* for this sort of thing,
Has DA “moved on” from us since 2001? Nope.

If you don't think this constitutes a clear violation of a solemn oath, then I feel sorry for the cause of justice if you're ever called to serve on jury duty.
And now Svendsen is accusing Dave of being a hypocrite for doing exactly the same thing that Svendsen does?
The difference, Mr. Prejean, is that my comments have a qualifying context, and are otherwise conspicuously absent a solemn oath resulting from a “RESOLUTION STATEMENT”—let alone three identical solemn oaths resulting from three separate “resolution statements” taken over a period of five short years! Open your eyes. Remove the blinders.
It boggles the mind.
Perhaps it wouldn’t “boggle the mind” so much if you were thinking rightly about this and were not so obsessed with trying to get DA off the hook on which he’s placed himself. Again, if your breezy, irresponsible comments on this are representative of your sense of what is "right," then I'd hate to think of the cause of justice being placed in your hands.
If this argument is sound, then Svendsen is a mess of self-contradiction.
Not at all. Find my solemn oath on this in the form of a “resolution statement,” Mr. Prejean--the one that states I will never expose the errors of DA or RC apologists in general--and I’ll be glad to hold to it.
And he thinks that wordsmithing about what constitutes a dialogue (a critique of a pubished work is NOT a dialogue),
Here is why your thinking on this is confused. You have to allow each party to define its own terms, Mr. Prejean. Armstrong swore without qualification not only never to interact with us, but never to mention the name of James White. The ONLY exception he said he would make is if one of us made “a profound retraction of slander and gross errors of fact” in our past presentations. Those were the terms of his resolution. The exception clause has not happened, but Armstrong still interacted with us. In fact, He has broken that resolution over and over again. James White, on the other hand, resolved never to “dialogue” with Armstrong, UNLESS it was an oral debate OR it benefited a lot of people. His critique of Armstrong’s published work falls under the latter criterion. If you can't see the difference, then I'm afraid I can't help you.
but no nuance at all is possible on the term "interaction" even when that nuance was specifically noted in the original description ("documenting and recording insults") and was exactly the same nuance offered by Svendsen himself to explain his own behavior?
No, it’s not “exactly” the same kind of nuance—in fact, it’s not even close. The “nuance” about which you speak is that DA would “only” and “simply” “document”—there was no statement that he would be “interacting with.” Indeed, the resolution itself was specifically to “cease” this kind of activity “ALTOGETHER.”
His behavior has gone beyond ridiculous.
Statements like these are always plentiful when the one side doesn't happen to like how strong the evidence is for the other side. Your defense of the indefensible is quite telling.
It is disgusting and contemptible to resort to this type of irrationality in order to fabricate a charge of dishonesty.
Lol: I assure you, no attempt to “fabricate a charge of dishonesty” is necessary in this case. DA has adequately demonstrated that his oaths are meaningless. That’s a fact.
At best, Svendsen is so blinded by disliking Dave that he lacks any rational perspective.
Or, perhaps the case is rather that you are too blinded by loyalty to DA to listen to rational thoughts on this. The evidence speaks very well for itself. Have you even once thought to correct DA on this? Or are you in such a defensive posture that you fear "all would be lost" if you did the right thing by calling DA to task for his oath-breaking practices?
At worst, he is a hypocrite and a liar.
And as soon as you can find that elusive solemn oath I took never to expose DA’s strategy of deceit, perhaps you’ll have a case.

DA “Non” Responds with a Non-Response Once Again!

Yesterday, James White posted on his blog a humorous caricature of Dave Armstrong that captures the essence of the situation nicely.

In keeping with his latest “resolution” DA has offered another (you guessed it) "non"-response, not only to James, but more cryptically to me. Those of you who are waiting with baited breath for the answer to DA’s second “Who Wrote This?” quiz, the answer is, I did. DA posted that in a feeble attempt to show that he’s not the only one who has gone back on his resolution.

There are just a few problems with DA's quote. The biggest problem with it is the fact that DA (as usual) rips my words out of context. I was not referring to pointing out DA’s tendency to lie and distort the fact. I will certainly continue to do that. I was instead referring to taking his theological and exegetical points seriously, and interacting with them as though he is a force to be reckoned with (he’s not). That’s what the poster on the NTRMin Discussion Forum was asking me to do. I have refused to do that for many, many years—and I always will refuse to do that because such an activity lends credence to someone who has not earned it.

So, nice try, DA—but no cigar.

DA has also posted past statements from James White demonstrating his (quite understandable) frustration in his dealings with DA. James is quite capable of defending himself on this one, but a few things strike me as obvious.

First, to my knowledge no one on this side of the aisle has ever written a “RESOLUTION STATEMENT” as DA has done—not to mention writing REPEATED resolution statements over the years. James’ words certainly are not solemn oaths as DA’s most certainly are.

Second, DA cites two examples of James’ supposed resolve of not interaction with DA on any level. But in each case, it seems to me that’s not what James is saying. In the first example it seems clear to me that James is saying he’s through dialoguing with DA on an issue—not that he won’t address DA’s inane points in a critique of his views. Also, I believe the situation itself has changed, and James called attention to this within his latest critique of DA's book; namely, that DA now has a real published book, whereas before he did not. Obviously, one can critique a written work without “dialoguing” with that person.

In the second example, it is clear that James makes a significant qualification to his resolve not to interact with DA; namely, that he won’t do it “UNLESS it benefits a large number of folks with a minimum amount of invested time, and has the longest lasting results.” In this case the situation is that DA’s work has been published, and now has exposure to a lot of people. Obviously, James’ decision to critique that work is well within the stated qualifications of his previous “resolution.” An oral debate, as James mentions, would also fit that qualification. Hence DA's citation of James’ words, as though he has broken some kind of “resolution,” falls to the ground.

Nice try, DA—but still no cigar.

I can’t help but point out the obvious, however; that in responding to us once again, DA continues to violate his own RESOLUTION. That should demonstrate to all that DA’s word is meaningless. He has no problem with lying, so long as he thinks he can pin that same charge on someone else—that way he doesn’t “appear” to be lying. What a sad spectacle.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

More Fun with Dave Armstrong (Part 2)

In part 1 of this entry, I pointed out the many instances in which DA has broken his resolution of interacting with anti-catholics; but I didn’t respond to the “non-interactive” comments he wrote in response to my corrections of the last “non-interactive” comments he posted on his blog regarding Luke 1:28 and Smyth’s grammar. Here is my response to that—which is sure to result in even more “non-interaction” from DA.

I wrote: “Here is DA's most recent example of "ignoring anti-catholic" writers like me.” DA “non” responded:
attempted charge of me going back on my word. In fact, if one searches the text above, they will find that I never say that I would "ignore anti-Catholics." I wrote: “I have decided it is time to cease interacting with them altogether . . .”
I think I’ve adequately shown in part 1 that DA is simply blowing smoke here. What is the substantial difference between “ignoring” and “ceas[ing] interaction”? There is none. But that doesn’t prevent DA from making a distinction without a difference. Behold:

That is; I will not try to dialogue with them anymore, as massive contextual data makes abundantly clear.”
We weren’t “dialoguing” to begin with. Does DA perhaps mean “monologuing”? Because aside from a brief stint in which we were all part of James White’s Sola-L list (mid 90s), DA and I have never “dialogued”—nor has he “dialogued” with James White, David King, or others of us as far as I can tell. Does he really mean “I write articles opposing their views”? Then how does that differ from the same kind of “dialogue” that we have seen coming from his blog on a regular basis since he made his infamous “resolution”?

Later on I also made two very important qualifications: “I will continue to simply document and record the insults of anti-Catholics towards me” [and] “Either someone (including even anti-Catholics, under these strict conditions) responds point-by-point, or I will not counter-reply at all, per the above. I will only record personal insults, in my ongoing effort to document exactly how anti-Catholics usually "argue" their ludicrous case.”
Yes, I predicted he would attempt this. I wrote part 1 of this entry when I noticed he posted a response to my last blog entry, but before I actually read what he had to say. As it turns out, he did just what I thought he would do, and the reader is referred to part 1 of this entry to see why this “qualification” does not apply.

Now to the substance of DA’s “non-interaction” with my points:

I wrote: “And it is somehow “pretentious” to say that Smyth is not important to the issue at hand; in this case the meaning of Luke 1:28?” DA “non” responded:
[clearly, that was not my argument; which was that Svendsen was pretentious to claim that Smyth had no importance at all for Greek studies, when he clearly does; in other words, mocking that about which he knew nothing, by his own admission. I could easily prove this if the text were still available online]
What is clear, is that I made no such statement—nor did I even imply it. I never said Smyth was unimportant to Classical Greek studies; I said he is irrelevant to the issue at hand (the exegesis of Luke 1:28) precisely because he is not a Koine Greek grammarian. Here is an example of how DA engages in context swapping.

I wrote: “The all-encompassing point that anyone who knows what Luke 1:28 says in the Greek MUST AT ALL COSTS be familiar with a footnote reference to a Classical Greek grammar that is used in Classical Greek studies at “many important colleges and Greek courses.” So you see, in DA’s view, the issue is not the meaning of Luke 1:28 after all; the issue instead is whether someone who claims to know what Luke 1:28 says in Greek has heard of one particular Classical Grammarian who is outside the field of koine Greek studies.” DA “non” responded:
[absurd creation of a straw man -- even if sarcastic, because it is utterly wrongheaded -- and equally ridiculous mocking of it]
Lots of smoke, but no substance. My analysis above is indeed correct.

I wrote: “When someone “apologizes” for “questioning [my] abilities in Greek,” and then immediately proceeds to question my abilities in Greek (his point # 5), how meaningful was that apology? And does DA learn his lesson of the meaninglessness of using a source that is irrelevant to the discussion? Not at all.” DA “non” responded:
[misrepresents both the nature of my apology -- thus goes on to unethically question its sincerity -- then completely distorts my whole point about Smyth and ignores the fact that I fully conceded that a classical scholar would have to defer to a koine scholar, in matters of NT Greek. But the distorted, sophistical rhetoric is apparently too good for Svendsen to resist, whether it is true or not.]
The “nature” of his apology? No, I don’t think I misrepresented the “nature” of his apology at all, since the “nature” of his apology was insincerity. And if he concedes that a Classical scholar would have to defer to a Koine scholar, then why was he so insistent that mere familiarity with Smyth carries so much importance to the exegesis of Luke 1:28? Why did it become the all-encompassing point of his more recent blog entry? I’ll tell you why. Because DA is a master of red herring. If he can get his readers off the issues that really matter (you know, the ones he himself raises and then discovers he has absolutely no exegetical footing for his view) and get them to focus on the “importance” of a completely irrelevant point that bears absolutely no weight in the discussion, and press the “importance” of that point over and over again while at the same time acknowledging that it has no actual bearing on the issue at hand, then he will have succeeded in his taking the focus off his baseless exegetical speculations that started the discussion in the first place. That’s the “strategy of deceit” that Paul refers to in Ephesians 4.

I wrote: “DA keeps pointing to the fact that Smyth is “important,” “well-known,” “prominent” and that his work is “widely-used.” What he keeps forgetting to add here is that Smyth’s importance, prominence, renown, and usefulness extends only to Classical Greek.” DA “non” responds:
[non sequitur, as it has absolutely nothing to do with my subsequent criticism after my apology, which was that Svendsen mocked the man as if he was an insignificant scholar altogether. Thus, my point had nothing whatsoever to do with the koine vs. classical Greek distinction, which I have always accepted -- precisely because I know nothing about the subject matter, and thus defer to those who do; including Svendsen]
Just for the record, I never “mocked” Smyth. That’s only DA’s distorted interpretation of the dialogue. You will not find any statement coming from my pen that represents “mocking” of Smyth. All I suggested was that IF he was making the point about the grammar of the New Testament that DA was making, then he was in error. As it turns out, he wasn’t making a statement about the grammar of the New Testament—he was only being misrepresented by DA as doing so. Hence, for DA in turn to suggest I “mocked” Smyth is simply a lie.

I wrote: “No, he didn’t apologize. A true apology implies the very next sentence is not going to be the same accusation for which he has just apologized.” DA “non” responds:
[Again, he denies my sincerity in apologizing, and then totally mischaracterizes my subsequent complaint and argument, which was entirely different from what preceded it]
He questioned my knowledge of Greek studies (“Well Smyth says this and it contradicts your point”); apologized for it (after it was pointed out to him that Smyth’s is not a koine Grammar); and then questioned my knowledge of Greek studies again (“How deep could your knowledge of Greek be since you did not know that Smyth was a Greek grammarian?”). The only difference between the charge that prompted the “apology,” and the subsequent charge, was that the subsequent charge was completely off topic—a red herring at best, and a purposeful deception at worst.

I wrote: “And his mistake would be “innocent” only if he didn’t persist in perpetuating the same mistake in subsequent writings, including this one. He still wrongly thinks that Smyth is some important voice in the discussion on the meaning of Luke 1:28!” DA “non” responded:
[Of course I have done no such thing. Nor can Svendsen prove it (which is why he never does from my words; he merely keeps repeating the bogus charge). It "works" for him to pretend and wax eloquently about my supposedly having done so, so a point can be made about how stupid, dense, and hypocritical I allegedly am. Anything to make me look foolish; damn the facts and logic and even basic decency towards another human being!]
I think the facts speak for themselves on this one.

I wrote: “no one can simply use a Classical grammar as a decisive source for New Testament Greek.” DA “non” responds:
[No kidding . . . ]
Then Smyth is a non-issue (oops, I keep forgetting that in DA’s Bizarro-Apologetics world, “non” is actually “non-non”; a “non-response” is actually a response, “non-interaction” is actually interaction, and perhaps a “non-issue” is actually an issue).

I wrote: “DA has gone to a lot of trouble to show that Mike Taylor and Eric Svendsen contradict each other on this point (a strategy of deceit that he uses all the time—witness his most recent attempt where he tries to pit me against James White).”
[Gotta be a liar and deliberately deceitful person, in there somewhere . . . ]
It’s certainly not a popular thing to say these days, but I think it’s a real option (and so did the New Testament writers, by the way).

I wrote: “Now, since DA seems to want to violate his New Year’s resolution so soon after making it (I told you he would).” DA “non” responded:
[see my first footnote above]
See my part 1 of this series.

I wrote: “I’m sure he’ll also want to address his exegetical incompetence that was brought to the fore by James White. Or will he continue to cower under the cover of red herrings?”
[I ceased trying to dialogue with White because he utilized personal attack and distortion of opponents' views extensively, just as Svendsen does here. That decision has no bearing whatsoever on how I might have tried to answer his charges of my supposed utter exegetical incompetence]
So DA “non” responds to me and “non-non” responds to James White, even though we’re both guilty of “utilizing personal attacks” (something DA has never done, of course). As has been pointed out repeatedly, James did not engage in personal attacks (at least no more so that anyone else with whom DA freely “dialogues”). What he did do—and did it quite well, I might add—was to expose the utter folly of the ridiculous claim inherent in the subtitle of DA’s book: “95 Bible Passages that Confound Protestants.”

More Fun With Dave Armstrong

A couple of days ago I asked the question, "Is Dave Armstrong finally coming out of hiding with regard to his published exegesis of Luke 1:28?" The answer is a resounding "nope." But here's the really good news; DA has decided to follow his resolution of ceasing interaction with “anti-catholics.” And that should be an easy task for DA because he’s had so much practice “ceasing” the interaction. He’s a lot like the guy who says, “quitting smoking is easy—I do it all the time.” Here is DA’a latest “ceasing” of interaction:

Per my resolution, I shall merely chronicle what he said and very briefly document the absolute falsehoods (in brackets]. This is my last post on any of this ridiculous "feeding frenzy" from our anti-Catholic brothers and sisters in Christ. It's time to move on to legitimate apologetics.
I challenge anyone to go through DA’s “farewell” letter and find where he says he would “very briefly document the absolute falsehoods.” It’s not there. I have the original just in case he changes it. Here is what he “promised” in this farewell letter:

I have decided it is time to cease interacting with them altogether.
What does “altogether” mean, and how would it differ from what he was doing before?

I feel that "enough is enough" and I can move on to some serious discussion with folks who want to truly dialogue, rather than condescendingly lecture, pompously preach, and insult
What does “move on” mean, and how would it differ from what he was doing before?

I've had enough. My patience is exhausted. Life is too short to waste any more of my time with nonsense such as this.
What do words and phrase such as “enough,” “exhausted,” and “waste any more of my time” mean, and how would it differ from what he was doing before?

I will continue to simply [sic] document and record the insults of anti-Catholics towards me (at the end of this paper), as I learn of them.
What does “simply document and record” mean, and how would it differ from what he was doing before?

So I simply document their insults, and let people decide for themselves if such material is fitting (and ethical) in the midst of intelligent discourse.
What do phrases such as "simply document their insults and let people decide for themselves" mean, and how would it differ from what he was doing before?
DA has no intention of following his resolution to “cease interaction.” But as I mentioned before, he has plenty of practice with this. Here is the text of the “resolution" he made nearly four years ago to Ronnie Brown, who is one of the moderators of the NTRMin Discussion Forum. Bear in mind here that the following "resolution letter" was written only after Ronnie reminded DA of a prior resolution letter DA had posted. I warn the reader, in typical DA style the following "farewell" letter is extremely vebose; you may want to skip to the bold text, which I think you'll find quite interesting:


Posted by Dave Armstrong on March 14, 2001 at 19:32:43:

Hi Ronnie,

Thanks for reminding me of, and provoking me to my own actual preference, down deep. You have done me a great service indeed, and I appreciate it. One can get caught up in all the controversies with anti-Catholics, and thus cite the "king" and most supposedly "respectable" of the anti-Catholics too much.

The better part of my judgment agrees that this is excessive, for I have been urging Catholic apologists to not engage White in *public* (oratorical) debate for many years now. I turned him down in 1995 and twice in our recent exchanges. Funny, though, how he keeps challenging *me* to debate him, since he considers me an absolutely unworthy and unqualified opponent, a pompous, foul-mouthed, dishonest and devious blowhard, etc. - things he has verbally expressed in one way or another many times. Yes, quite odd. But I don't think it is all that hard to figure out, without too much effort.

I don't think Bishop White (though possessed of a brilliant intellect and truckloads of admirable zeal) is a serious scholar or apologist, when it comes to Catholicism, and I have always said he was a sophist and obscurantist in debate (which I suspect lies at the root of his intense personal hostility towards me). I don't care where he went to school. I'm a big fan of informal education myself.

It's what he *does* with the knowledge he has (*wherever* he obtained it) that I and dozens of others who have been blessed by meeting his acquaintance object to. He has engaged in more-or-less constant public slander and incessant insulting of both persons and groups such as Catholic Answers.

He more than qualifies, therefore, as a "slanderer" by biblical standards. When something is manifest literally hundreds of times, one is altogether justified in coming to this sad conclusion. It is not true that one can *never* make such a judgment; it is permissible biblically when the evidence of repeated offense becomes compelling. Slander is a sin which is easily documented, because it is directly connected to facts and evidence.

White thinks I am all these terrible things he claims. That's fine. You know: I am guilty of everything but tearing the wings off of flies, deliberately running over squirrels, and pushing old ladies into the mud. People can look through my writings and try to find what he thinks he sees in them. They can read my long paper documenting his sins of lying and slander and complete unwillingness to repent of such actions and words, and how both he and I conducted ourselves. It's all documented. And White won't touch it with a ten-foot pole. That's a pathetic place to be: scared to death of your own words and what they indicate and illustrate (since my paper is *filled* with his own words; some 60-70% of its contents).

Dr. White - to be fair - does a good deal of decent and helpful work in other areas (KJV-only, various cults, the Trinity, pro-life) which I appreciate (his life is not by any means *solely* devoted to bashing and lying about Catholics and their Church; he is a Protestant/Reformed apologist as well), but like so many others, his rationality and objectivity seem to go out the window when he deals with Catholicism.

But anyway, in addition to not debating White "live," I think we should all ignore him in writing, too, and desist from even mentioning the man. In fact, a well-known priest has been almost begging me to utterly ignore Bishop White, and your post reminded me that indeed he is right. All the attention only feeds White's ego and gives him a legitimacy and importance he doesn't deserve. He has been refuted times without number in writing, so there is no need at all to increase his notoriety or exposure any more by granting him the legitimacy which comes with serious dialogue. He ought to be *utterly* ignored now. I'm just now realizing that, late in the game. I hope others follow suit, because this has been much discussed in private amongst apologists.

I only mentioned him so much on this board because he has not repented of his sin of slander. So I have kept after him; no different in essence and purpose than the prophets of old preaching their message, though often unheeded, or like Jesus "haranguing" the Pharisees, or Paul refuting the Judaizers, or St. Augustine the Manichees or Donatists, or St. Athanasius the Arians, or C.S. Lewis the scientific materialists, or John Paul II the culture of death and its promoters. I have a bad habit of rebuking slander, gossip, and "evil talk" whenever I see them.

But enough is enough. We need to wash our hands of Bishop White once and for all. It's "sandal-shaking" time. He won't listen to us. We can only hope and pray that he will be rebuked for these sins by honorable, decent men in his own circle of trusted friends and allies (perhaps some are "working on him " right now, as I write). This is not an area of ethics which is all that different amongst Protestants and Catholics.

My problem (and struggle, in the present instance) is that I truly, passionately believe in the dialogical or dialectical spirit or enterprise. I am idealistic and naive enough to think that when people talk to one another; *really* listen to opposing views, and maintain an open-minded willingness to learn and to be corrected, that the cause of both truth and understanding can be furthered (*hopelessly* idealistic, I am, for sure! And it is a cause of much pain and frustration, believe me).

So I enthusiastically welcomed the recent opportunities of dialogue with Tim Enloe and also Dr. White, despite the ugly, distasteful past, especially with the latter. We see how things have turned out, however. Tim has now cast me to the wind over a difference of interpretation of Luther's words and my vehement opposition to his silly and fatuous psychoanalysis of me and my motivations for doing what I do (which he in turn claimed was my allegedly evident "martyr/persecution complex" .

Dr. White resolved (for the fourth time or so) to never communicate with me again as well (one can read everything on my site). His reason? Well, the immediate cause, as far as I can tell, was a dispute about what the word "bishop" means! I claimed that Baptists didn't believe in bishops. That highly offended him; he said that he *himself* was a "bishop" (hence my sarcastically calling him that ever since, with a very serious underlying point and intent, as with all sarcasm).

I tried to maintain a rational conversation with him, as I perceived (wrongly, in retrospect) that there may have been some hopeful openness to personal progress and true communication between us (because, e.g., he had made an agreement to stop the ad hominem attacks with apologist Bob Sungenis), but all to no avail.

I told him I would remove my long paper about his slanders if he would simply retract them and cease and desist (just as I asked him twice in one day to please desist so that I wouldn't have to put the paper up in the first place). But no matter. It's my fault, I guess, that I made this egregious error of making a "novel" or "unheard-of" or "offensive" claim about episcopacy and Baptists that can be found and verified in any Protestant Bible Dictionary or book about Church government, or denominations.

So I tried; I really did, but events have confirmed my longstanding objective, "realistic" appraisal of the situation (despite dashing my hopes and idealism). Both these men have proven themselves incapable of, and unwilling to engage in, calm, rational, open-minded, non-hostile conversation with Catholics on an ongoing basis.

They both want to blame me for their shortcomings, of course. Let them. Blame-shifting goes all the way back to Adam and Eve. My big mistake was in believing that both men were better people down deep than their behavior suggested. My great fault was to try to believe the best of them - to actually dare to hope and believe that we could overcome this personal fiasco and farce which has befallen us.

I explained why I have mentioned White so much, and the reason was *not* an obsession with him. You say that it is. Very well, then. Tell me what proof I could offer to *falsify* this *psychological* claim of yours that my frequent mention of him was not based on a resolve to rebuke him ethically (as I claim), but rather on "obsession" and "personal issues"? If you can conceive of no *falsification* of your claim, then it is an irrational claim in the first place, and you have no basis for making it; and I have already provided my own explanation, which you reject.

So again, tell me what I could say to possibly *disprove* your contention vis-a-vis myself and White.

That aside, I do wish to thank you again, for prodding me to actually go back to my own better principles. Neither White nor Enloe, in my humble opinion, have proven themselves worthy of being interacted with by serious Catholic Christians, interested in the promotion of further understanding and unity between the two camps - even while allowing the complete freedom for both sides to vigorously argue their principles and deeply-held beliefs, where there are sincere differences.

So starting immediately, I resolve to neither interact with, nor to even mention at all, James White and Tim Enloe. They don't deserve any further attention or notoriety. I urge all other Catholics and especially Catholic apologists to do the same (though of course I have no real authority to compel anyone to do anything; I can only suggest). This is consistent with many biblical injunctions urging us to avoid those who cause divisions, and slanderers, and to avoid "senseless, stupid controversies," "vain conversation," etc.

I am always extremely reluctant to apply those passages to a particular person because of my idealism and my atrocious habit of "believing and hoping all things" about people (1 Cor 13). But it is a sad necessity at times.

Furthermore, I am through with debating all anti-Catholics (i.e., ones who deny the Christian status of Catholicism), from this moment. That was my position for several years, and we never allowed anti-Catholics on my apologetics/ecumenism list, because we knew that they killed both good conversation and charitable relations amongst different Christian groups. But for some reason I have gotten sucked into this sort of thing again in the last year or two.

I know for one thing that I wanted to give Tim Enloe a chance to show that he was different because he is a very sharp and perceptive guy, who also proved that he was (admirably) capable of public apology (unlike Dr. White, when it comes to Catholic apologists). I wanted to believe the best of him, and try to achieve an "opening" of discourse and increased mutual understanding.

That was a miserably failed experiment, which greatly saddens and distresses me, but does not surprise me, because it is perfectly consistent with the virtually universal experience of all Catholic apologists in interaction with anti-Catholics or near-anti-Catholics (as Tim is). I also greatly underestimated Tim's emotional antipathy towards Catholicism, which has been abundantly evident as of late.

The only exception I will allow myself is if one or both of these men make a profound retraction of slanders and gross errors of fact in their past presentation. Of course, at that point I will interact with them, as a function of charity, mercy, and forgiveness, and urge others to, as well.

I publicly apologized to Tim on this board for my excesses in our recent exchange (he did *not* acknowledge my apology. If I missed it, someone can send me the post). I have apologized to Dr. White many times, on the record. There are apologies of mine right now on the Internet, on my paper about his tactics - near the end, which he has never acknowledged, either. I have never maintained that I was perfect in all these fiascos. Far from it. But I have issued apologies on several occasions and have always been willing to discuss things, if there was some opening, or lessening of rancor and hostility. All we can do is get up after we fall, brush ourselves off, repent, and try to do better, by God's grace.

I will also continue to defend and examine (and modify, as the case may be) any of my posted papers, as a result of a substantive, valid critique. That has always been my policy, and even this resolve cannot undo that.

I'm counting on you, Ronnie, to immediately rebuke me if I forget this resolve and mess up! :-) If you think I *can't* keep this resolve because of the supposed "obsession" you think I have, then watch me. You will be in for a big surprise. I feel much better already. I should have done this five years ago.

But papers have been written exposing the errors and attitudes of anti-Catholicism, and they will remain on my site. There are many other apologists who can now fight various errors and individuals, when it is required. It's time for me to move on. I no longer have the *patience* for this sort of thing, anyway, even beyond all the issues discussed above.

In our Lord Jesus,


So, in summary, here was DA's "resolution" four years ago:

He ought to be *utterly* ignored now. I'm just now realizing that, late in the game. I hope others follow suit.

But enough is enough.

We need to wash our hands of Bishop White once and for all.

So starting immediately, I resolve to neither interact with, nor to even mention at all, James White and Tim Enloe. They don't deserve any further attention or notoriety. I urge all other Catholics and especially Catholic apologists to do the same. . . . This is consistent with many biblical injunctions urging us to avoid those who cause divisions, and slanderers, and to avoid "senseless, stupid controversies," "vain conversation," etc.

Furthermore, I am through with debating all anti-Catholics (i.e., ones who deny the Christian status of Catholicism), from this moment.

The only exception I will allow myself is if one or both of these men make a profound retraction of slanders and gross errors of fact in their past presentation. Of course, at that point I will interact with them, as a function of charity, mercy, and forgiveness, and urge others to, as well.

It's time for me to move on. I no longer have the *patience* for this sort of thing.

And my personal favorite:

If you think I *can't* keep this resolve because of the supposed "obsession" you think I have, then watch me. You will be in for a big surprise.

So much for DA’s “resolutions.” He’s done it at least twice before; he did it just recently; and he will do it again. He is an accomplished “ceaser” of interaction with “anti-catholics”—No one has had more practice at it than he.

Now, in the most recent case DA may appeal to this statement in his letter to justify his ongoing “non” interaction with us:

Either someone (including even anti-Catholics, under these strict conditions) responds point-by-point, or I will not counter-reply at all, per the above. I will only record personal insults, in my ongoing effort to document exactly how anti-Catholics usually "argue" their ludicrous case.

But if he justifies his violation of “the Resolution” by applying this standard to my “point-by-point” response of his article, then what explains the fact that he failed to respond to the “point-by-point” response of James White regarding the critique of “Catholic Verses”? What are the “strict conditions” that allowed my comparatively non-theological points and disallowed James White’s comparatively salient “point-by-point” response of a real theological issue?

Of course, there is no justification for this, and it is obvious that DA has simply made another “public resolution” that he has absolutely no intention of keeping. It is a “cover” that allows him a disclaimer; that way he can still respond to some arguments while ignoring the more salient arguments he’d rather not deal with because he’s unable to deal with them.

The reader of his farewell letter will notice all the biblical verses DA cites as justification for not interacting with “anti-catholics” anymore (or is it “interacting by not interacting”? Or perhaps “not interacting by interacting”? It’s hard to tell). I wonder why he didn’t cite all the verses that say “let your yes be yes and your no be no; anything beyond this comes from the evil one”?

Perhaps he’ll treat us to the answer to this question the next time he decides not to respond. : )