Whole Counsel Theology

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Response to Some Roman Heresy

Ok, this is going to be a bit of an unusual post.

Recently, I have been reading some information over at www.envoymagazine.com in one of their forums, located here. They are a Roman Catholic apologetics organization (headed by Patrick Madrid I think) and the discussion has been pretty heated lately, with Dr. James White being mentioned in a particularly negative sense. By the way, anyone who thinks that the differences between Protestants and Roman Catholics have been resolved is out of touch with reality. :) The Roman church is just as rejecting of sound, biblical doctrine as ever it would seem, especially denying the five solas that I have printed on this blog over to the right.

In any case, there are several people over there who simply misunderstand important doctrines, and they are being good Roman Catholics it would seem and appealing to the authority of the Roman church for their interpretations rather than the exegesis of Scripture. I'll be posting several names in this article too, names you likely won't be familiar with, but they are just the usernames of people over at the forum, and I'm simply attributing to them the very words that they typed. Their usernames will be placed in bold when I come across them.

Dr. White has responded extensively over at his blog, here, and here (with another forthcoming), but I wanted to write something myself that I could put directly into the forum. They don't seem to like him very much (hmmm, maybe because he has successfully used Scripture against them?), and I figured perhaps they would read my post if I were to do something more than provide a link or a bunch of quotes. So, with that in mind, here I go. :) The text of this post will also be posted on the forum I linked to here, from this point forward.


Jerry-Jet said:
2 Timothy 3:16-17 is the LAMEST overused text that proves ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about sola scriptura.

Really? Well, nice of you to say so. :) However, in saying that, you have failed to provide a proper exegesis of the text at hand. Now, I know that you have made your opinions on words like "exegesis" known:
Notice folks--all you have to do is quote from the Bible and Jesus' own words and it strikes Satan so hard that he tries to trot out all the big time LIARS with MORE lies and even tries to dress them up as being THEOLOGIANS or EXEGETES or use big words and say that the plain words of Jesus and the Bible mean things OPPOOSITE (sic) of what they say.

Art Sippo has had no problem expressing himself on the matter too, referring to it as paganistic and eisegetical, I believe (I think he was referring to Dr. White's work at that point, but the issue remains). However, there is one thing that any rational person must agree to when interpreting ANY text, and that is the issue of CONTEXT.

It is simply not possible to understand anything spoken or written completely (or sometimes at all!) without it being in its proper context. The words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, chapters, etc. (which I discuss in much more detail here) around it give it its meaning in the broader discussion. If we fail to do that, then we miss it (that is, the meaning).

I prefaced this particular post with a large introduction (the one that ended up at my blog). If I had not, those who were not readers of this thread on envoy would have had no idea why I was writing this to begin with if they were to drop by my blog. However, since I set it in its context, then it makes a lot more sense as to what was on my mind.

In the same way, the Bible has to be taken that way. Before I address 2 Timothy, I'd like to mention what is REALLY meant by Sola Scriptura in a nutshell. We (including James White) do NOT mean by it that we do not use any other confession or "tradition" at all for anything. Rather, it is the only infallible rule, the rule against which everything else must be tested. Dr. White explains it well:
Sola scriptura teaches that the Scriptures are the sole infallible rule of faith for the Church. The doctrine does not say that there are not other, fallible, rules of faith, or even traditions, that we can refer to and even embrace. It does say, however, that the only infallible rule of faith is Scripture. This means that all other rules, whether we call them traditions, confessions of faith, creeds, or anything else, are by nature inferior to and subject to correction by, the Scriptures. The Bible is an ultimate authority, allowing no equal, nor superior, in tradition or church. It is so because it is theopneustos, God-breathed, and hence embodies the very speaking of God, and must, of necessity therefore be of the highest authority. So as you can see, your definition does not correspond well to the actual doctrine.
From his website, specifically http://www.aomin.org/SS.html

So then, when donnatoo said:
I’m not sure why any of us would care what James White has to say on this subject. However, since you are here and I’m betting so are many of James’ fans, doing a bit of lurking. Is this being chatted about in #prosapologian? I thought that I’d point out that James doesn’t believe in sola scriptura either.

I was naturally confused. I thought she had her definition out of order, or that we were using different definitions and/or she was mistaken, and I said as much. She then said:
No I’m not mistaken. James believes in scripture as he interprets it.

I didn't really know what to say after that, but I still maintain, based on the definition above, that we are using different ones. :) James White has defined Sola Scriptura in the quote above. I concur with his definition (not because he's James White, but because that is the historical meaning of the doctrine and it is what I believe). Also, I have disagreed with Dr. White in the past, and will do so from time to time I am sure -- it's just not that frequent. :)

Now, with the definition of Sola Scriptura firmly in our grasp, let's go on to the text that Jerry-Jet raised in his first part of his post. All quotations will be from the ESV version of the Holy Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: (2) preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.

Now, with the text of Scripture before us, we can begin to go forward. :) You'll notice that I included two extra verses, and the reason for that will become very clear in a bit.

First of all, the Apostle Paul indicates that the Scriptures are "breathed out by God" (verse 16). Then, he indicates that they are useful for several things, and then gives the purpose in verse 17 why the Scriptures are useful for these things -- "that (hina) the man of God may be competent (complete, perfect), equipped for every good work." When a clause is introduced with the word "hina" it is often a purpose statement, which it is here. Furthermore, when the subjunctive is used in conjunction (grin) with a hina clause, what is communicated is that this thing will indeed happen. It isn't meant to introduce the idea of uncertainty; it is merely the stylistic way Paul was writing (which occurs throughout the New Testament I might add). It is like me saying, "I turned on my computer in order that I might post a message to the forum." If I were to say, "I turned on the computer in order to post a message to the forum," I would be saying the same thing. There isn't an introduction of doubt here; there is the stated PURPOSE as to why I turned the computer on.

That is the idea that Paul is communicating here in verse 17.

Furthermore, the emphasis of this purpose is critical. Paul says (as I have emphasized above) that the Scriptures are profitable (useful), so that the man of God would be equipped for EVERY good work. This is not just some good works; this is every good work in the sight of God.

If the Bible is able to to equip us for every good work, then there is something important to put forward here -- it is infallible, or inerrant, as Jerry-Jet himself has said. Furthermore, it is then sufficient for every good work as well. Paul puts the statements in apposition to each other in verse 17:
** "so that the man of God may be"
  • "competent" (complete, perfect - Greek, artios)
  • "equipped for every good work."

Since the Scriptures make the man of God competent, then there is no need for anything else -- he is complete with what he has, which is further emphasized by Paul when he says they equip for EVERY good work.

This again is not to say that other "traditions" and "confessions" cannot exist (I personally like the 1689 LBCF). However, since these confessions are not the Scriptures, coupled with the fact that the canon is closed, all traditions/confessions/whatever must be scrutinized by the Scriptures to see if they are valid, and NEVER the other way around.

In the beginning two verses of the next chapter, Paul's exhortation to "preach the word" removes any speculation as to what he means about what is sufficient. The reason for that is that in 4:2 he gives verb forms of many of the same words he used in 3:16. So then, when the Apostle said "preach the word" he was saying "preach the Scriptures." And why does he say to preach the Scriptures? Because they are "God-breathed," and the result of which is "that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." There is no room in this passage for an interpretation leading to Magesterium or Tradition, and according to this passage, nothing else would be needed anyway (not ignoring my comments about confessions of course).

Anyway, on to more comments by Jerry-Jet:
What happened until all the scriptures were written--was there NO authority? What kind of sense does that make? At EXACTLY what point did God say to the world--this right here is the exact scripture and it is all you need--have a nice day?!

Well, no, of course not. :) However, God has spoken differently in different times, as the Scriptures themselves tell us. Furthermore, some of the writings (jumping ahead to the New Testament) were available pretty quickly (such as some of Paul's writings), and of course they were a rule of faith. I'm confident that the Holy Spirit worked in such a way through those writings (and the others once they were written and assembled) which truly were inspired that His people were encouraged by them, even before there was an official canon. Nowadays, we are better off than they, simply because we have the entire canon before us.

Besides, the question doesn't really apply to our current situation very much, since all of us agree that we have the canon and that it is closed. So, at whatever point it happened is not as important as the fact that it has happened, and we have the Bible.

Jerry-Jet also said:
2 John 1:7 'For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist.'

Mr. White and all the other Protestants in the world who reject that Jesus IS come in the FLESH in the Eucharist are simply ANTICHRIST--not because I say so but because God's INERRANT word says so!

You either believe Jesus IS come in the flesh or you don't--and for all you protestants who have Bibles that have been changed in wording because Satan wants the scriptures to lie read the King James Version--it uses IS COME in the flesh just like the Douay Rheims.

The only way that Jesus IS COME in the flesh in the PRESENT tense when 2 John 1:9 was written would be IN THE EUCHARIST! I really believe that once a Protestant has been taught the Catholic faith and continues to reject it that at that point they should be treated like a publican or a sinner because they don't accept the teachings of the disciples and if they don't accept the teachings of the disicples then they don't accept Christ because that's what Jesus SAID!

First of all, the King James Version, while it is a good translation, is not the best. It was written in 1611 (or at least put out then), so the translators didn't have the luxury of more modern discoveries (including more [and better] Greek Texts than the Textus Receptus and also the Dead Sea Scrolls from the Qumran community). All that said, what you wrote fails to take the context in which John was writing into account.

His whole point in making the statement had nothing to do with the Eucharist/Lord's Supper/Communion. Nothing at all. What John was doing was refuting a group of gnostics (called the docetists I believe)[1]. These people were denying a critical doctrine and reality -- that Jesus actually came in the flesh, the very thing John teaches in the Gospel account that bears his name.

Furthermore, using the author's own context, and understanding that he used the same phrase (though with a different tense) in 1 John, also addressing the heresy of the gnostics:
1 John 4:2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, (3) and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.

Here we have "has come in the flesh," and the ESV renders 2 John 7 as "those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh." Both of these statements are consistent with John's theme in this epistle: the refutation of the gnostic heresy. To say otherwise is to divorce these texts from their contexts and arrive at erroneous interpretations.

I'll deal with one more quote from Jerry.

Jerry-Jet then said:
Read john chapter 6 if you are Protestant and then TRY to tell anyone that you don't believe the words of Jesus! Tell me that Protestants aren't like all those disciples of Jesus that fell away from him because He has given them "a hard teaching". Will you also go away to grape juice and crackers like they did in John 6:66 and reject the very FLESH and BLOOD that Jesus redeemed you with and also COMMANDED you to Eat?

Oh, I very, VERY much believe the words of my Lord and Savior in those verses. The problem is that Jesus isn't talking about the mass or the Eucharist at all. I am certain of this. How, you might ask? Context. Let's look at a few verses from that chapter (any emphasis added is mine):
John 6:32 Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. (33) For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." (34) They said to him, "Sir, give us this bread always." (35) Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (36) But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
John 6:47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. (48) I am the bread of life. (49) Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. (50) This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. (51) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh."

Can you not see it? Jesus parallels believing with eating! He is using a metaphor, and a powerful one at that. He said that God gave the bread -- Himself, and that those who eat of it (believe in Him) will have eternal life (live forever). The context tells us exactly what Jesus was saying!

Besides, we can't say that every example Jesus gives ought to be taken literally. If we do, then we'll have a Jesus that has hinges, boards, maybe even a lock! Jesus often used metaphors to make a point, and the point here in John six is that we must believe in Him to have eternal life. Verse thirty six helps that as well, given that he was saying these things and people were still not believing in Him.

Context my friends, context. THAT is the means by which to understand ANY text, and since the Scriptures are inerrant, we can know that the writers assembled the context perfectly (unlike some of our [as humans] mindless ramblings).

May Jesus Be Glorified!
David Benjamin Hewitt


1. I got that information from one of Dr. White's blog posts, located here. Furthermore, if you read something here that looks similar to something there, then it is most likely because I consulted his posts strongly as sources.



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