Thursday, March 29, 2007

James White's "Dare" to Post His Links / My Reciprocal Challenge: Why Not Return the Favor and Also Reply to Eight of My Critiques?

Illustration by Maria Korusiewicz


In the continuing comic saga of Baptist anti-Catholic luminary James White and his love-hate relationship with Catholic apologists, he is now calling for us to have the guts to post some of his old papers, in his latest post: For the Serious Minded.

I would like to invite Jonathan Prejean, Patrick Madrid, Dave Armstrong, and the rest of that group of RC apologists, to post links to the paper as well.

Who??!!! Why is he mentioning me? After all, I thought he was through with me once and for all, after his recent insult-barrage in turning down my debate challenge. Some highlights:
Your credibility rating is 0.0. You are all verbiage, zero substance. . . . I consider you a stalker, nothing more. . . . Your arrogance knows no limitations and your hubris is likewise without bounds. . . . your very integrity and honesty [are] highly suspect. I would invite you get some help with your obsessive/compulsive problem. . . . I have not said a word about you in ages, because I have no interest in your re-tread Catholic apologetics, and I am focused upon important things.

[it took exactly 23 days for White to decide to mention me again. I guess for him, that is an "age"]


I do not have time for your childish games, Mr. Armstrong. You just ignored numerous reasons why even investing the time to try to get you to act in an adult manner in the issue would be next to impossible, . . . I debate adults, sir, who can be expected to keep their word long enough to make the investment of time and money worthwhile.

. . . you play games focused solely upon your monumental ego, Mr. Armstrong, . . . I cannot imagine what it is like to do what you do, to live like you live, to view yourself as you view yourself. I can only be thankful I will not be in your shoes when God judges the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Yes, okay; back to the topic at hand after that humorous aside . . . White "invites" us Catholic apologists (obsessive stalkers with zero substance and unbounded hubris though we possess) to post a link to his article, What Really Happened at Nicea? (Christian Research Journal, Spring 1997). I have linked to it in the title of the article, above. White complained about the small print in the Internet Archive version he found. I have done him the service of finding an earlier archived version with larger print. I'm sure he will be most grateful, since he holds me in such high regard.

Why
[should we post the link]? Well, they are all claiming the paper is a glowing example of how unscholarly I am, how ignorant I am, and why no Roman Catholic should ever listen to anything I have to say.

I haven't said one word about it. I don't even participate on the Envoy Discussion Board. So I don't know why White thinks I have. Maybe it's because I am (so sez he) a "stalker", so he just assumes I am in on the evil Jesuit conspiracy to prove that he is so ignorant?

So, how about posting this link


Your wish is granted, good bishop!

along with the Envoy article, and my brief response (which was limited, by the way, by publication word limits)?

I'm happy to be of service (I've been known to provide more than a few links on my blog and former website):

"Ancient Baptists" and Other Myths, Fr. Hugh Barbour, O.Praem. (July / August 1998 -- Envoy)

Ancient Baptists and Other Myths (White's reply of 8-25-06)

That way, you can let your audience find out if Hugh Barbour was actually dealing with what I wrote, or was doing as I have said, writing nothing but a shameless hit piece that mocks the very nature of sound scholarship?

Being a lover of two-sided dialogue myself, I am ecstatic to present one such example and let readers decide.

And would it not be a great benefit for Madrid and Prejean and Armstrong to post my article as an example of just how dull I am?

I don't know if "dull" is the best word to describe Bishop White. I would prefer "sophist" or "obtuse" or "intellectual coward" in light of how he has interacted with me these past twelve years.

I mean, each of them should be able to provide a far superior summary of the main issues at Nicea, Constantine's role, the primary personalities involved, and make it all understandable to the interested layman, and do it all in 4500 words, right? I mean, since I failed so miserably at it, they should be able to pull it off, right?

I might just take up this challenge, but will Mr. White, for his part, promise to respond if I do so, rather than high tail it for the hills, like he has done virtually every other time I have critiqued his writing? One tires of cowardice, poorly masked by bombast and relentless arrogant, self-congratulatory trumpeting of one's supposedly singular debating abilities.

So I look forward to their demonstrating their integrity and honesty by posting the link along with their far superior articles.

Oh goodie! I have regained my integrity! It took just 23 days too!

But I must confess that I didn't fulfill White's wish and request merely out of the goodness of my heart and in order to help him along in his increasingly desperate plight to attain some semblance -- any remote shred -- of intellectual respectability in my eyes and that of my colleagues. I actually have a small favor to ask of Mr. White, too.

Would the good bishop be willing to give some sort of answer -- at long last -- to any or all of these eight critiques of mine that he has run from and ignored (the first going back nearly twelve years now?):

Is Catholicism Christian?: My Debate With James White (+ Part Two) (May 1995)

Dialogue on the Alleged "Perspicuous Apostolic Message" as a Proof of the Quasi-Protestantism of the Early Church (June 1996)

Pope Silvester and the Council of Nicaea (July 1996)

"Man-Centered" Sacramentalism: The Remarkable Incoherence of James White: How Can Martin Luther and St. Augustine Be Christians According to His Definition? (November 2003)

"Whitewashing History": Critique of James White's Book, Mary -- Another Redeemer? (with William Possidento) (March 2004)

The Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-30) vs. Sola Scriptura and James White (September 2004)

Refutation of James White: Moses' Seat, the Bible, and Tradition (Introduction) (+ Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV | Part V | Part VI | Parts VII & VIII) (May 2005)

Refutation of James White on 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 and Purgatory (March 2007)

One rare exception to the rule of White's fleeing in terror from any critique of mine is his multi-part critique of my book, The Catholic Verses (January 2005). He actually stayed on topic for about a post and a half before predictably descending into the slime pit of personal insult. After a few posts of that, I tired of it and simply ceased discussing it with him.

Ever since, this has been the lone instance that White can cite, where I stopped discussing things with him (after having begun an exchange). Since he knew that I had stopped discussing the topic, suddenly he became emboldened and manly enough to write several posts (knowing that I would not be responding). How brave; how impressive . . . I dare say most people would have reacted the same I did, if they had been subjected to asinine vitriol such as the following:

White claimed I was ignorant as a Protestant, and had not done sufficient reading to know much of anything. I promptly provided a detailed list of what I had read as a Protestant. Without missing a beat, White replied:

In essence, this means that instead of blaming ignorance for his very shallow misrepresentations of non-Catholic theology and exegesis, we must now assert knowing deception.

(12-31-04)

Armstrong simply doesn't understand the process of scholarly examination of a text . . .

(1-1-05)

This kind of utterly amazing mishandling of Scripture is sad to observe, . . .

(1-2-05)

. . . in reality, Dave Armstrong does not understand the basics of how to respond to sound, simple scholarly observations regarding the subject.

(1-3-05)

I never dreamed that a total and complete melt-down would take place, resulting in Mr. Armstrong pulling the material off his blog and going into hiding! . . . let's face it: DA isn't up to defending his published works. . . . DA can't do meaningful exegesis, . . .

(1-3-05)

. . . it is hard to take what Mr. Armstrong says seriously . . .

(1-4-05)

At the moment a fairly small group of folks are filling up the blogosphere with the constant assertion that I have engaged in ad hominem argumentation in my reviews of Armstrong's book, mainly because I have concluded sections by noting Armstrong's inability to seriously engage the topic at hand (i.e., provide meaningful exegesis). . . . Evidently, it is not allowable in our society to point out when someone provides shallow, errant, and generally worthless argumentation in a written form . . . when he is forced to attempt to deal with specifically exegetical material, he is out of his depth. . . . To call this a "melt-down" is to engage in understatement to an absurd degree.

(1-4-05)

The man does not know how to do exegesis. It's a fact. . . . the reason that Dave Armstrong is doing this [ceasing discussion with anti-Catholics] is pretty much the same reason that Dave Hunt won't debate me. He can't. He can't . . . the facts are not on Dave Armstrong's side. He can't respond! . . . Dave Armstrong has gone into hiding . . . because he can't respond anymore . . . . . . the argumentation is so basic and so clearly fallacious . . . clear, obvious, logical errors. . . Armstrong could throw his hands up in the air and say, "look, I'm not a scholar; I have no scholarly training. I can't read the original languages." But he won't do that. [No? That's news to me. I did just that on 1-4-05, on my blog, and many times before. Bizarre claim . . .]

(Dividing Line webcast, 1-4-05)

. . . what we find in The Catholic Verses. No exegesis is offered. No argument from context appears . . . But nowhere does Armstrong do the one thing he must do to be taken seriously: he never exegetes the passage. He never makes the connections that would be absolutely necessary to prove his point. He just assumes his position, nothing more. . . . the "Catholic Verses" are, in fact, "Badly Chosen Catholic Prooftexts Devoid of Exegetical Meaning." But we must be ready to explain why and hope and pray the Spirit will open hearts and minds that have been blinded by a false gospel and a false hope.

(1-5-05)

This was only the climax of a long history of slander by Bishop White. For example, there was his eight-minute rant about me on Dividing Line (4-2-04):

Those of you who have been following the blog, uh [laughter], just, I don't know, what do you do with someone like Dave Armstrong, you know? . . . you know, in your heart of hearts, that this fella, uh, bless his soul, has no idea what he's talking about. He's read some books, but the important foundational stuff that allows you to actually make sense out of all that stuff, he's clueless; he has no idea what he is talking about, but he writes constantly!

[Why, then, has Dr. White, challenged me to debate him live some 5-6 times now, through the years (from as far back as 1995 -- and he was insulting me back then already, just as he does now), if my thought is so utterly worthless? Does he seek out the very worst opponents he can find? What does that make him, then?]

. . . So what do you do? Cuz, it's sorta, sort of; it's really disturbing to me, uh, that I hear from people, and they go, "well, well, whaddya think about what he said about this?" And I sorta, I sorta; I, it's really hard for me to go, "well, have you really thought about, you know, the foundation of this argument, and the background of this argument?" People need to learn how to examine argumentation! And see through fluff! Uh, see through stuff that shouldn't even be called an argument; it's complimenting it way too much to call it an argument! And [sigh] it's just, how do you deal with folks like that?

. . . the whole point was to illustrate the difference in exegetical methodology. I have one. He doesn't. And he doesn't because he doesn't know the field. He's just; he doesn't know what he's doing! I mean, that would be like my trying to, to, write to a CPA and criticize uh, an audit that he's done on a major corporation. I'm not trained in that. I don't know the terminology. I don't know the basics, the foundational rules that you're supposed to do and why you put this in this ledger and why you put that -- I don't know that stuff. It's not my area, I; you can go to school and learn those things. Uh, but he hasn't done so.

. . . This guy [sigh], sadly, there are people who write recommendations of his stuff! I mean, you got Scott Hahn, all these folks, which amazes me. Uh, because you [laughter] look at some of his books, and it's just like "wow! there's just no substance here." It's just rattle rattle rattle rattle, and quote John Henry Cardinal Newman and that's the end of the subject. And there's no meaningful argumentation going on at all.

Then we must never forget White's classic ad hominem post (also from April 2004: a real banner month for Jimbo): Dave Armstrong: Socrates without Substance ("Dave Armstrong has never once cracked the binding of a book on exegesis, let alone taken the subject seriously enough to equip himself to honestly approach the subject with integrity," etc.).

* * * * *

In passing, I'm wondering if someone can help me find the in-depth, full refutation of the Talpiot Tomb claims by these Roman Catholic apologists? I mean, I would think the fact that they are so far beyond me in scholarship (especially Mr. Prejean), that they would have been providing information on the Acts of Philip and mitochondrial DNA and the like far faster than I have. So could someone direct me to their rebuttals?

Why would we need to? The Body of Christ is composed of many parts, with each playing his role, including apologetics. I've stated time and again that Mr. White does good work in many areas, such as the Muslims, Mormons, liberals, homosexual activists, KJV-Only, and this sort of skeptical nonsense. I've defended white against slander more than once. I link to many of his non-Catholic-related papers. That being the case, this is what I wrote to him recently:
Yes, I complimented you on that in my last letter. God bless you. I don't need to spend time on that particular nonsense because you are doing a thorough job. Kudos! I can simply refer people to your refutation if they want something on that.

I do have extensive critiques on my blog, of course, of atheists and theological liberals (a page devoted to each), along with other work, such as against homosexual activists, pro-aborts, Muslims, Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, scientific materialism, etc. So you're not the only one out there fighting the forces of evil and falsehood. There are plenty more in the apologetic trenches.
So how about it, James? I fulfilled your request. Now will you make links to all of my papers that you have run from in abject terror for twelve years? And will you summon up all your courage and intellectual acumen to answer maybe one of the eight that I listed? Even two or three?

Oh, and I would invite all of them to help us test out our new phone system this afternoon/evening on The Dividing Line? The toll free number is 877-753-3341. I'd love to give you the opportunity of continuing the demonstration of "ethics in defense of Rome," i.e., "As long as you are slandering critics of Mother Church, it's all fair game."

Why would I want to go on a show where James controls everything? He hung up on Jonathan Prejean. I'm gonna be dumb enough to participate in such a situation stacked entirely in his favor? I offered to go on this show for an entire hour (see #4 below), and White refused. It was part of his long pathetic history of refusals and running from challenges, where I am concerned:

1) Bishop White volunteered to substitute for Tim Enloe in a prearranged live chat debate (12-29-00) after Tim gave up and failed to fulfill what he had agreed to. We went back and forth for 5-10 minutes and then he had computer problems and disappeared. I hung around for a good two more hours hoping he would return but alas, it wasn't to be.

2) White declined an offer in early 2001 to ask me questions all night in his chat room (on any topic!) if I could have 90 minutes questioning him. The entire thing was to be recorded on my website, no matter what happened.

3) White virtually begged and pleaded with me to leave him alone after I turned down yet another request by him to do a live oral debate (for principled reasons I have consistently given). He wrote on 11 and 12 January 2001:

I have done everything I could to avoid further contact with you. I cannot stand people who attempt to impress by bluster, obfuscation, and rhetoric. It's a personal problem I have, maybe a character defect, but that's the way it is. I know you cannot back up your "tightly reasoned arguments" . . . and so to hear you so smugly rely upon your ability to write and write and write without end is tremendously annoying to me. I'm one of those folks who truly dislikes long, wordy people who say nothing.

. . . I'll be right up front with you, Dave: you would never survive a one-on-one debate with me, because you can't defend your position without using obfuscation and rhetoric. You can't survive direct cross-examination, and what really bugs you is you know it.

. . . I detest inconsistency and deception. I detest surface-level assertions and the misuse of facts. That is why you and I don't get along. I'm not impressed by rhetoric and bluster and verbosity. There are many who are, I'm not one of them. I have a deep-seated dislike of those who make a show of knowledge for the sake of something other than the truth itself. . . . If you think written exchanges have the ability to allow for the kind of interaction that live ones do, well, what can I say? It obviously does not.

. . . I have done all I could since then [May 1995] in light of certain aspects of your behavior to avoid interaction like the plague. My website contains nothing about you for that very reason. You are a writer who seemingly has endless vistas of time in which to write endlessly irrelevant diatribes that, if they are not dissected point by point, you claim are, in fact, "tightly reasoned" classics of Socratic logic and insightful patristic and biblical scholarship. And if someone does point out obvious errors, well, poof! Mean-spirited angry Protestants!

. . .
Mr. Armstrong, I have no interest, whatsoever, in continuing this with you. I don't like you, and I don't believe you like me. Until a few weeks ago I had followed the path of wisdom and avoided every entanglement with you.

. . .
I'm going to ask you to join me in promising to stay as far away from each other as possible. I'm not asking you to not respond on your own website to what I write or doing whatever you want to do when speaking, etc. I am talking about personal interaction. Stay out of #prosapologian. Don't write to me. Don't ask to do dialogues, debates, or anything else. You just do your thing, and I'll do mine. OK?

4) He declined my suggestion in October 2004 that I come onto his webcast so we could just chat like human beings for an hour.

5) He kicked me out of his chat room recently when I had done nothing wrong (and had been harangued by the notorious anti-Catholic Pastor David T. King. I wasn't even allowed to go to the second "debate" chat room. I'm far too threatening, I guess, to enter a place with 25 anti-Catholics. The odds are too stacked in my favor, I reckon.

6) He declined my challenge to do a live chat debate (on the topic of "What is a Christian? / Is Catholicism Christian?"), where I would give him 90 minutes to cross-examine me whereas I get 60 to question him. This was specifically designed to give him plenty of opportunity for cross-examination, since he frequently extolls the glories and supreme importance of same on his blog. His sidekick John Q. Doe then refused the same exact challenge.

7) And he ruled any possibility of even his beloved live oral debate on the same topic.

All this, and yet White thinks "you would never survive a one-on-one debate with me, because you can't defend your position without using obfuscation and rhetoric. You can't survive direct cross-examination, and what really bugs you is you know it."

Lastly, there is the issue of reconciliation and apology. I have sought the former many times and done the latter many times. All to no avail with James White, because, as he said himself, he doesn't "like" me and according to him I am a mean-spirited simpleton, pretender, liar, with no integrity or substance, nothing whatsoever good to offer by way of apologetics (even general Christian apologetics), etc., etc. Recently, I was asked a question by Doe on his anti-Catholic blog:

I'll mention to James next time I talk to him how sorry you are for the innane [sic] things you've said about him over the years, and how you're trying to change. Maybe we can work something out and move you off the stalker list.
I replied:
Yes, case in point. I have made now maybe ten different apologies to James through the years (virtually all of them open and public). He has made exactly none back. What do you think God would think of that? You are actually silly enough to believe that James has never said anything about me in eleven years that deserves an apology? If so, you are truly out of reality and live in a fantasy land.

One time I apologized to him right in his chat room, with everyone witnessing it. He would not apologize back, though, for all the lies he's told about me through the years.

Recently I simply removed 75 papers of personal nonsense back and forth, including many legitimate defenses of myself against slander. But all of White's garbage written about me remains on his site.

And now I'm a "stalker." This guy just keeps getting more and more ridiculous. It's amazing! Now he's reduced to showing five-minute radically-divorced from the overall context clips where he supposedly embarrassed his debate opponents?

But that's not foolish and arrogant . . . James White can levy insults and defend himself and his great unvanquishable (ha ha!!!) wisdom till Kingdom Come and he has the utmost integrity, etc. The blatant, ongoing double standards of ethics are never acknowledged.

That's one reason (of many) why I have ignored anti-Catholics for two years. One only has so much patience for this sort of inane childishness.

And, by the way (as if it were not obvious), I didn't leave the chat room when asked to by James because I had done nothing wrong, as I stated. To do so would be to, in effect, accept the lie that was being implied: that I had violated some rule or had some nefarious purpose. I had not. It was a matter of principle and basic ethics.

So I wasn't about to leave. He had to ban me, so his hypocrisy and arrogance would be manifest, just like you now think Pat Madrid is a coward and a hypocrite because you were banned on his forum. If it applies to Pat then it does in the exact same way to James White (who doesn't even allow comments on his blog).

I don't know what you wrote at that forum and so I can't have an opinion on whether it was right that you were banned. But I know Pat personally and I know he would certainly be able to offer a good reason for what happened. And I do have most of the transcript of what occurred when I was in White's room. . . . Facts can be brought to bear on these things. It's not just a "he said she said" scenario.

Listen to James White Become Unhinged & Yell at & Patronizingly Preach to Jonathan Prejean on "Dividing Line"

http://www.creativelivingresource.org/wp-content/plugins/dbfiles/dbfile.php?action=get&id=35&name=Angryman.jpg

This is one for the ages (15 minute exchange on Dividing Line: 8-22-06). Of course Bishop White (clueless as usual regarding Matters Catholic) is actually proud of it, and so presents it on his blog for all to hear. I'm so happy he did. This provides a welcome balance to his endless array of video debate vignettes presented on his blog (invariably when he is the cross-examiner; we never see the other guy doing his cross-ex), where he supposedly makes mincemeat of his Catholic opponents, cowering under the weight of his immense wisdom and biblical acumen. Who else would be so brazen, lacking in dignity and propriety, and transparently self-important, to do such a thing? It's like "the king of arm wrestling" in a junior high locker room or something . . .

This audio clip reveals the James White I have known for 12 years: a prime audio example of condescending, arrogant, utter disdain of Catholics as human beings and thinkers, stupefying noncomprehension of opposing viewpoints, and the always-ready obtuse counter-"argument." This, from the man who recently turned me down (with severe insults designed to justify his intellectual cowardice) when I offered him a 90 minute cross-examination of me in his chat room, where he could annihilate me once and for all (as he fully believes he can do -- so he says himself --, yet never does it because he refuses every opportunity to do so). He even ruled out any possibility of his beloved oral debate on the same topic ("What is a Christian, and are Catholics Christian?").

See also his accompanying commentary on my good friend Jonathan Prejean on his blog. Can you imagine me talking to the good bishop on his webcast? It is almost unable to be conceived how utterly condescending the man would become with me on the other end of the phone. I have 12 years of his relentless, unending insults (almost all of which I recently removed from my blog because people -- including, very much, myself -- are tired of the ad hominem horse crap between Christians) that give me a very good idea of what it would be like. But he also turned me down when I suggested that we do a friendly chat for an entire webcast, so I guess we'd never know. In the meantime, we can all lament this performance of his. Thanks again to James for posting it! White in all his patronizing anti-Catholic glory! . . .

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

John Lennon's Short-Lived Intense Interest in Evangelical Christianity

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I thought I knew just about everything there is to know about the Beatles, but I had never heard this before. According to well-known Christian writer / author Steve Turner ("John Lennon's Born-Again Phase"), this occurred in April-May 1977. Lennon had shown considerable interest in several of the TV evangelists and even started announcing to friends that he was "born again." Apparently, Yoko Ono played a key role in making sure this was simply a (typically) passing interest, by strenuously arguing against the belief that Jesus was God incarnate, etc., and continuing her interest in various false religious practices and beliefs.

This is fascinating and a bit eerie on a personal level, because it happened at exactly the time I seriously devoted myself to Jesus as His disciple, in my evangelical conversion (what I described as being "born again" at the time). A big influence on John Lennon in this regard was Franco Zeffirelli's magnificent film, Jesus of Nazareth, that also made a huge impact on me in early April of 1977 (I mentioned that in my conversion story in Surprised by Truth). How sad that John didn't choose to continue this newfound path. I knew he had been raised as some sort of Anglican.

I also recall reading an article about John Lennon in the newspaper within a few weeks of his murder, where Lennon said he was reading the Gospels and really understanding what Jesus was saying for the first time. I've always hoped that this indicated some spiritual commitment or at least avid interest, such that he might have been saved in the end. If this article is correct, and Lennon turned away from Christianity and became fairly hostile (an instance of the gospel "seed" falling on "rocky soil"), then it is a good sign that he was still willing to read and ponder the words of Jesus, shortly before his death. God has mercy on every soul. God knew John didn't have long to live. We can only hope and pray.

We all have to decide Whom we will serve, and no one knows when their time on this earth will come to an end. Today is the day to commit yourself to Jesus Christ if you have not yet done so. I believe that the Catholic Church preserves the fullness of Christian truth and moral teaching. But even if you are not in a place where you can accept the teaching of the Catholic faith, I urge you to commence or renew your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ. Now is the time. God gives all the grace for repentance and ultimate salvation. Jesus died on the cross so that we could obtain eternal life.

But you (like John Lennon) can decide to act upon this cross-enabled grace or not. God gives you that freedom because He is not interested in forcing people to follow Him and enter into the Kingdom and joy. Don't wait! And whatever you do, don't turn away from what you know is the truth, for then your soul is in exceedingly great danger of hellfire. Not popular or fashionable words these days, but true nonetheless, and if I didn't proclaim this message in its fullness I would be lax in my duty as a Catholic Christian evangelist.

If you're on the fence, or in a miserable place in your life; if you are in despair; now is the time for you to decide to follow Jesus and be His disciple. He's calling you. Will you answer the call and act upon it?

Monday, March 26, 2007

On the Curious Scarcity (Online) of Distinctively Lutheran Apologetics

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John Warwick Montgomery is a superb, distinguished Christian apologist (one of the greatest in our time) who is a Lutheran, but not particularly an apologist for Lutheranism.


I had this exchange with several Lutherans on the Three Hierarchies blog, starting here. Color codes:

Josh S. = blue
Eric Phillips = green
Joel = purple
Pirate = orange
BWL = red

I'm still searching for a Lutheran blog that does apologetics and actually likes to interact with Catholics (and preferably not anti-Catholic). Does anyone know of any?

Dave, I'm pretty sure that by your standards, any genuine Lutheran is going to be anti-Catholic, just like anyone who actually subscribes to Trent will of necessity be anti-Lutheran. Our churches exist in mutual anathema.

OK, I don't want to turn this into another protracted Dave vs Josh war, so that's enough of that.

A "genuine Lutheran" is, of course, one who consistently accepts traditional Lutheran beliefs (basically, LCMS and WELS these days, and perhaps some traditionalist European species), whether anti-Catholic or not. Luther and Melanchthon were both anti-Catholics but also had significant pro-Catholic elements in their beliefs.

A Lutheran apologist would be one who defends Lutheran distinctives (just as I defend Catholic distinctives), and who attempts to provide rational reasons for Lutheran distinctiveness and preeminence among Christian belief-systems, and to incorporate the mind and intellect into the Christian witness in Lutheran form.

I am having the greatest difficulty finding this. Are things that bad in Lutheranism that y'all don't have a single active Lutheran apologist on the Internet, whereas Catholics can name many dozens who are defending Catholicism in such a way?

*** CLICK ON "Tolle, lege!" immediately below to finish this article ***

I was referred to one blog, but that person said he doesn't want to do any debates at all, but simply provide Lutheran stuff for Lutherans. I asked him if he knew of any sites along the lines of what I seek. He said he didn't. So I have asked here, because CPA and I have had excellent dialogues in the past (but he said he is doing relatively less apologetic-type discussion now).

I find that astounding, but also a striking fact of the preeminence of Catholicism and the uniqueness of the distinctively Catholic outlook on Christianity.

. . . anyone who actually subscribes to Trent will of necessity be anti-Lutheran. Our churches exist in mutual anathema.

That may be true of Lutherans (and the Confessions describe us as the Antichrist, as I recall), but it is not true of us. See my paper: The Catholic Understanding of the Anathemas of Trent and Excommunication.

As everyone knows, the Catholic Church has rapidly developed a more ecumenical approach, especially since World War II. That is not, unfortunately, true of LCMS. So the Catholic is faced with the fact that the more traditional Lutherans tend to be anti-Catholic, whereas relatively more ecumenical Lutherans tend to be less consistently traditional (or "orthodox") Lutherans.
If I had a blog, I would do that sort of thing when it came up. If I do get one some day, I'm sure you'll find it.

If you're looking for a professional Lutheran apologist, though--meaning someone who does it full-time and makes his living that way--I don't know of any. Come to think of it, you're the only professional Roman Catholic apologist I know of, and there are way more RCs than Lutherans in this country.

I'm not sure Lutherans need any full-time professional apologists to convince inquirers of the truth of their doctrines the same way that Catholics seem to need them. It's enough for Lutherans to quote chapter and verse, since, as St Athanasius says, "The holy and divinely inspired writings are sufficient of themselves alone to make known the truth."
I am having the greatest difficulty finding this. Are things that bad in Lutheranism that y'all don't have a single active Lutheran apologist on the Internet
It's not that things are bad. First, since we regard other Christian churches as actual churches where Christ is truly present, stealing their sheep is not a priority. Second, the theologians in our churches are pastors. Running apologetics websites for arguing with Roman Christians isn't a high priority for them. Third, as Joel said, when your doctrines are simply based on Scripture rather than medieval mythology, complex scholastic re-imaginings of Aristotle, and a mid-20th C rewriting of history in the vision of Newman, they do not look as patently absurd to most Christians and thus do not require a full-time professional to defend and discuss them.

Dave, the question is not whether Roman Catholics think Lutherans are going to hell. These days, it seems like even atheists have a hard time getting into the Catholic hell. It's whether or not Lutheran doctrines are rejected by the papacy, and they still are. You can't be a faithful Roman and affirm the doctrines in the Book of Concord. Period. That's what the anathema's about.

You call me an "anti-Catholic" because I think the official doctrines of the papacy are contrary to Scripture and the Gospel, as though I could think anything else and call myself "Lutheran." Yet, you cannot be a Catholic without likewise affirming that Lutheran doctrine is contrary to God's Word and the Gospel, but you are "ecumenical?" Give me a break.

* * *
You call me an "anti-Catholic" because I think the official doctrines of the papacy are contrary to Scripture and the Gospel,

Nope; I call you "quasi-anti-Catholic" primarily because of your manifest prejudice and secondarily because you can't describe Catholic theology accurately to save your life, which is equally obviously a function of your prejudice, that brings on the inaccuracies.

Mere honest theological disagreement has nothing to do with the label "anti" -- at least as I use it (in line with many many Protestant sociologists and historians).

Come to think of it, you're the only professional Roman Catholic apologist I know of

You've never heard of, for example:

Karl Keating
Jimmy Akin
Scott Hahn
Mark Shea
Pat Madrid
John Martignoni
Tim Staples
Steve Ray
Al Kresta
Marcus Grodi
Peter Kreeft
Thomas Howard ??

I'm flattered if you know of me and not any of these, but I'm quite surprised if so.

As for apologetics in general, all Christians, it seems to me, are commanded to defend the faith (1 Peter 3:15 being the classic "proof text"). Paul did it constantly, and he tells us to imitate him. Christians have often played the games of pietism and/or fideism throughout history, but it's not a biblical approach if by this all apologetics is intended to be excluded altogether, because the latter is so prevalent in Scripture, particularly in Paul.

That doesn't mean everyone specializes in it, but it does mean that the biblical command cannot be simply dismissed as of no import in the Christian life, and it means that all Christian groups ought to have those who specialize in such things, just as every other occupation has its experts and practitioners.

John Warwick Montgomery is an exceptionally distinguished Lutheran apologist but he is not active on the Internet that I know of, and he doesn't appear to write much concerning defense of Lutheran distinctives. I see one such book in his bibliography: In Defense of Martin Luther (Milwaukee: Northwestern Publishing, 1970). See also his website.

Gretchen Passantino is a Lutheran I have known about for over 20 years, who has done a lot of general apologetics; not sure if she (formerly with her late husband Bob) defends Lutheran distinctives much, either. That's specifically what I am looking for.

Paul L. Maier is another who does mostly general Christian apologetics.

I defend general Christianity, too, and do a great deal of that sort of apologetics (especially against atheists and cultists), and I also defend Catholic distinctives.

Yet, you cannot be a Catholic without likewise affirming that Lutheran doctrine is contrary to God's Word and the Gospel, but you are "ecumenical?" Give me a break.

Sheer nonsense. Lutherans are fellow Christians who are in error on various points. of course I am ecumenical, just as my Church is, and as Pope Benedict XVI is.

After all, Lutheran pastor William Weedon cited his words from 1993:
Even a theology along the lines of the concept of apostolic succession, as is in force in the Catholic and the Orthodox Church, should in no way deny the saving presence of the Lord in the Evangelical [i.e., Lutheran] Lord's Supper.
Who said this? Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger in a letter to the Lutheran Bishop of Bavaria, Johannes Hanselmann in 1993.

It can be found in print in the volume Pilgrim Fellowship of Faith: the Church as Communion by (then) Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. It is on page 248.
I think the pope is pretty well-acquainted with what the Catholic Church holds, or, more specifically, what individual Catholics are allowed to believe about other Christians. Are you saying that you know more about that than he does? Pastor Weedon commented: "From everything I've know about Benedict, I do not believe he's the sort to prevaricate."

Note that the words of the pope do not necessarily imply that he believes Lutherans have the Real Presence. But they are undoubtedly ecumenical and respectful, in sharp contrast to, say, the quasi-anti-Catholic ravings of Josh, or, for that matter, The Book of Concord:

"The Mass in the papacy must be regarded as the greatest and most horrible abomination . . . it has been the supreme and most precious of the papal idolatries . . .
If there were reasonable papists, one would speak to them in the following friendly fashion:

Why do you cling so tenaciously to your Masses?

1. After all, they are a purely human invention. They are not commanded by God . . . Christ says, 'In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men' (Matt. 15:9).

. . . 3. . . . one can be saved in a better way without the Mass. Will the Mass not then collapse of itself -- not only for the rude rabble, but also for all godly, Christian, sensible, God-fearing people -- especially if they hear that it is a dangerous thing which was fabricated and invented without God's Word and will?

. . . 5. The Mass is and can be nothing else that a human work, even a work of evil scoundrels . . .

Accordingly we are and remain eternally divided and opposed the one to the other. The papists are well aware that if the Mass falls, the papacy will fall with it. Before they would permit this to happen, they would put us all to death.

Besides, this dragon's tail -- that is, the Mass -- has brought forth a brood of vermin and the poison of manifest idolatries.
(Smalcald Articles [1537], Part II, Article II: The Mass, from The Book of Concord, translated and edited by Theodore Tappert, St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House / Muhlenberg Press, 1959, pp. 293-294)
So in the papal realm the worship of Baal clings -- namely, the abuse of the Mass . . . And it seems that this worship of Baal will endure together with the papal realm until Christ comes to judge and by the glory of his coming destroys the kingdom of Antichrist. Meanwhile all those who truly believe the Gospel should reject those wicked services invented against God's command to obscure the glory of Christ and the righteousness of faith.

(Apology of the Augsburg Confession [1531], Article XXIV: The Mass, Book of Concord, ibid., 268 )
This is the basis upon which the early Lutherans forbade masses in their territories, and on which they justified stealing thousands of Catholic Church properties. Gotta chase that old devil and the idolatries of Baal-worship out of Christian lands, after all, even if it means stealing, theft, and plunder! Anything goes, fighting papist evil and utter corruption of Christianity!

This is clearly where Josh's quasi-anti-Catholicism derives (not to mention Luther's own frequent anti-Catholic inanities and propagandistic lies about his former Church. It's Lutheran heritage.

But Catholics don't speak in such ridiculous terms. Even Trent didn't condemn Protestant denominations or "Reformers" by name; it simply condemned errors. Individual Protestants and denominations may or may not hold those today. But in any event, you are regarded as our brethren in Christ, and we do not mock your religious services the way you (officially) mock and deride and despise ours.

Individual Lutherans can and do, of course, act in an ecumenical, charitable fashion, but they do so in the teeth of passages such as these in the Confessions they profess to follow in their entirety.

Isn't that what Lutherans are supposed to do? I hope I am wrong. Maybe Lutherans can -- are allowed to, within an "orthodox Lutheran" framework -- interpret such texts as non-binding and capable of more favorable explanation, after nearly 500 years of reflection.
There's something distasteful about going around looking for a fight. No Lutheran should engage you unless he thought he was specially called to do that sort of thing, otherwise he would be casting his pearls before swine, so to speak. (Sorry, no offense!) As you know, these issues have been gone over at length before, e.g.: The Augsburg Confession. Response: The Roman Confutation. Response to that: The Apology of the Augsburg Confession. Etc. To paraphrase the man whose sight Jesus restored, "I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would you hear it again? will ye also be [Luther's] disciples?
It's the quintuple posting RC apologetics in threads that have nothing to do with RC that makes you so endearing, Dave.

Right.

You might find the two Lutheran apologetic sites below of interest:


Thanks, BWL. My faith in humanity and intellectual confidence within Lutheranism is restored! For a second there, I thought y'all had gone pietist and fideist . . .

Those do look excellent indeed. Thanks for directing me to them. Now if we can get over the significant hurdle of the ones who run these sites being cordial even when they are critiqued . . .
If they can both defend their Lutheran distinctives under scrutiny with some decent arguments and remain amiable and friendly, they will have my eternal respect and admiration.

I have found that those things (among any denomination) are about as rare online as hen's teeth. So anyone who can buck the trend and the fashion truly has my sincere respect.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Should a Christian Ever Contribute to a Mosque Building Fund? / Early Christians & Jewish Synagogue & Temple Worship

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The early Christians, following Jesus' example, continued to worship at the Temple in Jerusalem, even during times of animal sacrifice (Acts 3:1), and also at synagogues.


This exchange was with "Grubb", a Protestant regular on my blog. His words will be in blue.
My cited words will be in green. His cited words will be in purple.

* * * * *

A friend of mine sent me an article [link], and I was wondering what y'all thought. If you don't feel like reading it, in a nutshell it says there's a RC Church in Germany that is planning to give money to Muslims to help build a Mosque in the same town. A collection is being taken (or was taken) with the money going to the Muslims to help build their place of worship.

It seems to me that we're called to love the lost in a way that draws them to Jesus not in a way that facilitates them turning away from Jesus.

In the end I think it was only 400 or 500 Euros, but does this really seem wise? Is this a rogue priest, or does the RCC approve of this? What do y'all think?

I have no problem with it, viewed as a gesture to facilitate inter-religious and ethnic harmony. As stated in the article:
"All that matters to me about them is keeping peace in the area," Meurer remarked. "We don't pray together there. We get to know each other, which is possible only at get-togethers like that."

. . . "It's simply a nice gesture by Mr Meurer," said Rafet Ozturk, DITIB's coordinator for interreligious dialogue. "We're pleased, of course. Even very pleased."
I don't see it as any different than, say, if a Buddhist neighbor of mine had their house burned down, that the neighborhood chipped in to help.

Doing this doesn't necessarily imply religious agreement or compromise; I think that may be the fallacy you are laboring under, in objecting to this act.

*** CLICK ON "Tolle, lege!" immediately below to finish this article ***



"All that matters to me about them is keeping peace in the area," Meurer remarked.

How about the fact that they're headed for a Christless eternity? That should matter infinitely more than keeping peace in the neighborhood.

[I]f the Vatican spoke out publicly about this now it might cause a huge issue; but it seems as though they should establish a policy not to help facilitate false religions in any way in the future.

I believe we're sending mixed signals if we say, "Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me' and 'No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him'" but then turn around and help build a place to worship a false god. What did they do in the Old Testament? They tore down places to worship false gods. Now I'm not saying we should go OT, but at the very least we shouldn't help expand the kingdom of darkness.

Make no mistake, some people will be converted to Islam in the Mosque Meurer helped build. How will he defend that when he stands before the judgment throne? The words, "All that matter(ed) to me about them (was) keeping peace in the area" will ring very hollow.

Will we next help build abortion clinics to keep the pro-abortion crowd peaceful? If you say, "Murder occurs in an abortion clinic, we'd never support that", I'll ask, "What occurs in a Mosque?" Surely spiritual murder occurs there. Their goal is to get one to believe in something that will lead to everlasting death. Isn't that worse than killing the body?

Building a place of worship is different than rebuilding a home. Helping someone rebuild a home doesn't in any way, shape, or form put forth the notion that you support their false religion. Helping them build a place of worship could.

I see. So if you are a plumber and a Muslim calls you to fix their toilet at the mosque, you refuse because that would mean you are supporting the religion of Islam?

If you put in windows or do roofing, you refuse to work on any mosque or synagogue or Buddhist temple, on grounds that you are thereby helping people go to hell?

How about if you are a fireman, and the local mosque is burning down. You say, "let it burn; that way people won't go to hell"?

Let's make it even simpler. The local mosque sponsors a night where Christians and Muslims can get to know each other and each other's religion better. You won't go because setting foot in the mosque means you support Islam, even though you are going there to explain and share your Christian faith?

The apostle Paul went into the synagogues and argued (apologetics) and proclaimed the Gospel. Why should you not go into a mosque and do so? I did this myself one night, in a Christian-Muslim group discussion. I defended Christianity with a Protestant friend of mine. I was also very friendly with the Muslims. They're not my enemies. They are fellow human beings in need of salvation like everyone else.

So you think the ecumenical outlook has difficulties; yours clearly involves far more absurdities, once scrutinized closely. And it is all based on the false premise I already mentioned.

Jim Scott IV added:
Historically in the really really old days the Church did try as much as possible to limit the proliferation of non-Catholic/Christian houses of worship but even then they allowed some of them to be built and this was way before Vatican II, my friends.

In fact in once case a local bishop seized a Jewish Shul from the local Jews and transformed it into a Church and the pope himself forced the bishop to fork over the money to build the Jews a new Shul.

So this is not new or unreasonable or unbiblical.
You're jumping to a lot of false conclusions when I've barely even espoused my ecumenical views. Slow down turbo. Christians must hang out with unbelievers; we're not called to practice the "holy huddle". Jesus hung out with unbelievers. Jesus went where unbelievers were. Paul went where unbelievers were . . . possibly even their places of worship. Going to a Mosque on a Friday night to preach the Gospel or to establish inroads for later preaching is fine. I'm not suggesting we build Christianville and never hang out with the lost. All of what I've said in this paragraph is Biblical and defensible. So you and I don't disagree on the fourth and fifth paragraphs you wrote, and your sixth paragraph is erroneous based on our agreement.

Your first three paragraphs are interesting food for thought. In the '80s JPII called RCs to quit their job if they worked in the nuclear arms field, because they were building weapons of mass destruction. Would he discourage building nuclear weapons but allow building mosques? Discourage what destroys the body but allow what destroys the soul? What's the difference between a nuclear bomb and a mosque? A nuclear bomb can do serious damage but may never be used; a mosque can do serious damage, but we KNOW it will be used. It seems as though JPII would have been against building a mosque since he was against building WMDs; and if he was against building one, I'm sure he'd be against funding one. I didn't agree with JPII, but it certainly will be interesting to see how you'll justify not building WMDs but allow building mosques.

Should a Christian donate to an abortion clinic in order to promote peace with pro-abortionists?

Hey Ben [Jim],

Long time no talk to. I hope you're well.

If I understood the first part of your comment, the RCC did try to hinder non-Christian "churches" from being built. Allowing some to be built is far different than helping pay for them. If anyone doesn't believe that, give money to the next topless bar being built in your area. Allowing it to be built would be hurtful; paying for part of it (even if done to help promote peace and inroads for witnessing) would be excruciating.

The last example you cited doesn't really apply here, does it? The Bishop stole their Shul and was forced to pay it back by building a new one. Meurer's parish didn't steal anything from the Muslims to whom they gave money.

it certainly will be interesting to see how you'll justify not building WMDs but allow building mosques.

That's simple. Things can be used for both good and evil. Use of nuclear arms is almost always evil, I would argue; however, deterrence as a concept is not completely ruled out by the Church. A nuclear weapon sitting there in a warehouse or a bunker is not intrinsically evil.

Say a monster from outer space attacked earth and we had such a weapon to use against it. This would not be evil; therefore the weapon itself (just like a gun or a knife) can be used for good or evil and is therefore not intrinsically evil. Killing noncombatant civilians wantonly, however, is evil, as part of traditional just war doctrine.

I'd have to see what JPII said exactly about workers in the nuclear field. It could be that he simply urged non-cooperation in a general sense, while not going the further step and saying that it would be intrinsically evil to participate in any way whatsoever. I don't know unless I see the exact quote you refer to. Anyone who pays taxes to the federal government contributes to nuclear arms, since it is part of military defense.

Helping to build a place of worship is not directly participating in any evil, either, and there is truth and falsehood in virtually any religion. It's not pure evil by any stretch of the imagination, like, for example, an abortion clinic or a Nazi death camp (which amounts to the same thing as the abortuary). That would be an absolute situation of the type you describe, in my opinion.

But one does not participate in false religious teaching in so doing. That's your fallacy and false premise. Muslims are going to build a mosque in any event, and worship there. If Christians want to help them as a gesture of good will, then that is constructive for purposes of inter-religious and ethnic harmony. It doesn't imply that we agree with the teachings. But we show that we respect their right to worship as they please, and acknowledge that their faith is just as important to them as ours is to us. That is part of charity. As long as we don't deny anything we believe, nothing wrong is done.

My reductio was, of course, that if you claim no one can help build a mosque in any way, shape, or form, without cooperating in false and pernicious religious doctrine, then how could anyone even help maintain or repair such a structure in any fashion?

Either you have to agree, by virtue of the reductio, that your position is too extreme, and must be discarded or greatly modified, or if you disagree, you must explain the essential difference between the two scenarios, and at what hypothetical point involvement in a non-Christian religious building becomes material participation in sin and false doctrine, etc.

Good luck . . .

You made a much better case than I thought you would; you frequently surprise me . I believe there's a fundamental difference between who's money we take (i.e. who we do jobs for) and to whom we give our money (i.e. what we support). When Paul was making tents, did he only make them for Christians? Not likely since he was working in an unbelieving land. Did Daniel work for a "believing" king? Not initially (he may have believed later on). So there's Biblical precedence in working for people who are unbelievers and possibly making things that we know will be used for evil. Paul may have made a tent for someone he knew was going to worship Baal in it; and Daniel may have been required to oversee the building of a non-Jewish temple early in his career.

Giving money is usually done for one of three reasons (there may be more, but I didn't want to actually try to come up with every reason we give money ) :

1) Stuff we need (house, car, electricity,... )

2) Stuff we want (soccer ball, tv, RAZR, soda, movies,... ) and

3) Stuff we support (charities, service organizations, churches, ... )

I know there are reasons that may not fit neatly into one of these, but generally this is how I classify my money spending.

With groups 1 and 2, we don't generally have the luxury of specifying things we support. I NEED electricity, but there's only one provider in my town, so I buy it from him. I want a soccer ball, but publicly held corporations don't specify their stand on Christianity.

But when I choose to give my money to someone or something, it's usually to help that person/thing in a time of need or to show direct support. I don't generally give money to people who ask on the street but do offer to buy them a meal because that's what they need. That way the money doesn't go to something I disapprove of (like crack). I give money to my church, because I support it. I give money to the Pregnancy Support Services Center (helps pregnant women avoid abortions). My brother gives money to Christian Children's Fund, because he loves what they're doing (so do I, but there's only so much money to give).

Is there anything you willfully give your money to that you don't support?

I have no problem with any of this so far. Presumably you are getting to my questions . . . I want to see what you say to those.

I do NOT give money to the Democrat Party, abortion clinics, N.O.W. (the feminist group), or Islamic building funds. Not even in the interest of peace, because it's too easy to construe building a relationship with support. The "They were going to do it anyway" defense is a very weak one. When my daughter moves out, I'll help her buy her first vehicle...unless it's a motorcycle. I will NOT contribute to a vehicle I think is very dangerous. She may buy it anyway, but I won't support it by giving money to help. Democrats are going to do what Democrats are going to do with or without my $500 just as Muslims were going to build their mosque with or without Meurer's money. But I don't give Democrats money to improve my relationship with the liberals in my office. I do other things to promote relationships and good will with those guys. And THAT is what I think Meurer should have done; come up with something else.

There is clearly Biblical precedence for working for unbelievers and possibly even working on unbelievers' places of worship as a job. But I don't believe there's Biblical precedence for voluntarily giving money to build an unbeliever's place of worship. I'm not saying because it's not in the Bible we can't do it (that's a whole 'nother conversation ); but rather that they didn't appear to do it in Moses' or Jesus' day, so we may want to follow their lead.

Here was the weakest part of your argument: ...there is truth and falsehood in virtually any religion. It's not pure evil by any stretch of the imagination... Actually that's the biggest danger in any false religion. If they taught one has to always lie, beat people up, and cheat on his spouse, that would be an easy religion to convert people away from. But when Satan blends his lies with God's truth, it makes it infinitely more dangerous. Not too many would fall for "Grubb's religion of lying, cheating, stealing, and spouse abuse", but billions have fallen for Islam. If misleading billions to hell by blending truth and lies isn't pure evil, I don't know what is.

Again, wasn't there something else Meurer could have done with the 500 Euros that would have showed good will? Sponsoring the first "get together" would have been an excellent idea.

If you show me an instance where Jesus or Paul clearly gave money to the building of an unbeliever's place of worship, I'll concede Meurer was right.

They did even more than that: they worshiped at the Temple and at synagogues. The Jews didn't even accept the Trinity (so they were like Muslims in that regard). Jesus continued to worship at the Temple and synagogues; so did Paul.

I believe there was a mandatory tithe or something of that sort, that supported the priests. Jesus in all likelihood continued to pay that, so He supported non-Christian worship practices and buildings.

Jesus even commanded His disciples to obey what the Pharisees taught (Matt 23:2-3), and Paul acknowledged the high priest's authority even when he was being persecuted by the Jews (Acts 23:2-5), and called himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).

Jesus highly commended the faith of the Roman centurion, who wasn't even a practicing Jew, let alone a Christian.

Is that enough for you to make you concede, even if you refuse again to answer my rhetorical questions?

Let readers judge who has the better argument: I continue to answer your questions; you ignore mine, and now I offer explicit biblical support for my position.

I presumed you deduced my answers from my comments just as I deduced your answer from your comments. When I asked if you'd ever give money to help build an abortion clinic, you didn't answer with a simple 'No'. You said, "It's (a nuclear bomb) not pure evil by any stretch of the imagination, like, for example, an abortion clinic or a Nazi death camp (which amounts to the same thing as the abortuary). That would be an absolute situation of the type you describe, in my opinion." If you don't say otherwise, I'll assume I deduced correctly from this that your answer would be 'No' to helping build an abortion clinic.

Likewise, when I wrote, "I believe there's a fundamental difference between who's money we take ... and to whom we give our money... When Paul was making tents, did he only make them for Christians? Not likely since he was working in an unbelieving land. Did Daniel work for a 'believing' king? Not initially (he may have believed later on). So there's Biblical precedence in working for people who are unbelievers and possibly making things that we know will be used for evil. Paul may have made a tent for someone he knew was going to worship Baal in it; and Daniel may have been required to oversee the building of a non-Jewish temple early in his career.", I presumed you would deduce that I don't have a problem with helping build or maintain a non-Christian place of worship.

But if you want it point blank: I would not refuse to work on their toilet, their windows, their roofing, and I would put out a fire.

Why would I answer rhetorical questions? Those are questions that not only don't require an answer, but the asker usually doesn't WANT an answer.

That's not how my own socratic method works at all. The whole point is that questions are asked so that the other guy's premises are challenged and he is made to reflect further on their implications and how they can be either defended or discarded as inadequate.

They did even more than that: they worshiped at the Temple and at synagogues. The Jews didn't even accept the Trinity (so they were like Muslims in that regard). Jesus continued to worship at the Temple and synagogues; so did Paul.

I looked up every instance of worship, worshipped, and worshiping in the NIV NT and didn't see any instance where Christians worshipped with Jews or unbelievers. Obviously it's true that Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, and the others taught in the synagogues, and before the resurrection worshipped with Jews, but did they necessarily worship with them in the old Jewish way after the resurrection? See below for a little more on this.

I believe there was a mandatory tithe or something of that sort, that supported the priests. Jesus in all likelihood continued to pay that, so He supported non-Christian worship practices and buildings.

I'm not going to concede based on "I believe there was a mandatory tithe or something of that sort, that supported the priests". Why wouldn't Jesus continue to go to synagogues and pay the temple tax? The old covenant hadn't been replaced yet. That wasn't done until the Resurrection, right? If worshipping in synagogues and paying money to support Jewish priests is such a good idea, why did the early church stop doing it? They stopped doing it, because to worship along side of unbelievers can be very distracting at the least and soul damaging at the worst. Apparently hanging out with Jews didn't help Peter much, since he went back to some of the old ways which is why Paul confronted him.

Jesus even commanded His disciples to obey what the Pharisees taught (Matt 23:2-3), and Paul acknowledged the high priest's authority even when he was being persecuted by the Jews (Acts 23:2-5), and called himself a Pharisee (Acts 23:6).

Are you trying to build a case for us to continue to be under Jewish teaching? So a Rabbi walks into a RC church and says, "According to our law, you should give me all the money in the offering plate" and the priest says, "According to Matt 23:2-3 we're to obey the Rabbi; hand over the money." Is that how it works in the RCC today? Cause if it is, I'm thinking about getting a Rabbi costume and going to the nearest RC church this Sunday . Just so y'all know, that was intended to be humorous, and I did make myself laugh out loud. I'm pretty sure that's not how it works. In Acts 4:18-20, "Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard."

Obeying authorities instituted over us and Pharisees when they teach accurate Godliness has no bearing what so ever on whether we should voluntarily give money to support false religions.

Jesus highly commended the faith of the Roman centurion, who wasn't even a practicing Jew, let alone a Christian

Not really sure you want to be making that argument Dave. That Roman centurion may not have been a Christian when he road out to meet Jesus, but he may have become a follower that day. This would actually support the PT (Protestant) position, salvation by faith alone. He hadn't done the sacraments, been baptized, or done any other act, but Jesus may have considered him a believer. By the very definition, he was a believer. Jesus told him his son would recover, and he believed and had faith in Jesus.

Again, this has nothing to do with whether one should give money to support a false religion. If the Centurion didn't become a Christian that day, do you think Jesus said, "Here's 10 denari, go build an alter to worship Baal. I hope we can be at peace and will try to preach the Word to you later."? Do you think Jesus ever saw people worshipping Baal and said, "We should give them some money to improve our relations, so that we may have peace with them and tell them the truth, because peace with them is all that matters to me"? That conversation isn't in the English Standard Version of the Bible I read.

It's not in yours either, because when Jesus saw the lost, he went to them and said, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water" (John 4:10b) and "Go now and leave your life of sin." (John 8:11b) And Paul said, "I preached that they should repent and turn to God" (Acts 26:20b) and "what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you." (Acts 17:23) And Jesus said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matt 10:34) and "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division" (Luke 12:51). Peace is enjoyable, desirable, and should be sought; but it is NOT as Meurer said "all that matters".

None of the passages you cited even remotely indicate that it's a good idea to willfully give money to a false religion. In fact if you read some of the questions I pretended Jesus or Paul asked, you would see how absurd it is to believe anything they did would encourage us to freely donate money to a false religion. Again, isn't there something else Meurer could have done to build good will between his church and the Muslims? Dave, you and I could probably think of ten things within 30 minutes if we tried that would build good relations without giving the money to the mosque building fund.

You may think I danced all around your iron-clad defense, but I did say, "If you show me an instance where Jesus or Paul clearly gave money to the building of an unbeliever's place of worship, I'll concede Meurer was right." My statement may not be accurate enough, since I was really addressing the 3rd way we spend money (willfully to support something). None of the passages you mentioned did that. In fact, in my opinion, none of them even remotely hinted at that.

Here's my last point, Kant's Moral Imperative basically asks: Would it be good if everyone did this? Some might say, yes, because we might have much better relations with Muslims world wide. Some might say, no, because we might have a lot more Muslim churches world wide. I fully believe we can improve relations with Muslims without donating to their building funds. This website is an example of how RCs and PTs have improved relations, and to the best of my knowledge Dave hasn't sent a check to my church's building fund. Or is that check in the mail Dave?

I would not refuse to work on their toilet, their windows, their roofing, and I would put out a fire.

Good. So now the question is, as I stated earlier:

. . . you must explain what the essential difference is between the two scenarios, and at what hypothetical point involvement in a non-Christian religious building becomes material participation in sin and false doctrine, etc.

I contend that there is no essential difference between maintaining a building and helping to pay for it. In both cases you are contributing to the continuance of a building that teaches what you regard as a false religion. I don't see any difference. In one instance you are contributing labor (which is exchanged for money) and in the other, money. What's the difference?

Your position is that you somehow are agreeing with or sanctioning the false religion in so doing. I don't think that follows. Your task is to either show how there is a difference between the two scenarios (fixing stuff and giving money), or to grasp that one is not embracing a false religion in doing either act, in which case you have conceded your entire original point of view.

Obviously it's true that Jesus, Paul, John, Peter, and the others taught in the synagogues, and before the resurrection worshipped with Jews, but did they necessarily worship with them in the old Jewish way after the resurrection?

Yes; I showed you already how Paul described himself as a Pharisee and recognized the authority of the high priest. That was after the resurrection. Christians continued to worship in the old ways until (at the very least) the council of Jerusalem and (more definitively) the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. For example, Paul "and his company" are described as worshiping at a synagogue:

13: Now Paul and his company set sail from Paphos, and came to Perga in Pamphyl'ia. And John left them and returned to Jerusalem;
14: but they passed on from Perga and came to Antioch of Pisid'ia. And on the sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down.
15: After the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent to them, saying, "Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it."

(Acts 13:13-15)
The sabbath day was, of course, Saturday. Paul and his friends were not only worshiping at the synagogue, but were actually invited by the "rulers" to preside over the service. The text records what Paul said, and then we learn:
42: As they went out, the people begged that these things might be told them the next sabbath.
43: And when the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.
44: The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear the word of God.

(Acts 13:42-44)
Acts 18:4 tells us that Paul "argued in the synagogue every Sabbath", seemingly implying that he was worshiping there, too.

Acts 18:8:

Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed in the Lord, together with all his household . . .
According to Acts 3:1 (right after the Day of Pentecost):

Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
The notes in my RSV explain that the ninth hour was 3 PM "when sacrifice was offered with prayer (Ex 29.39; Lev. 6.20; Josephus, Ant. xiv.4.3)."

Acts 2:46 described the early Christians:
And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts,

Obeying authorities instituted over us and Pharisees when they teach accurate Godliness has no bearing what so ever on whether we should voluntarily give money to support false religions.

But I deny that one is doing that by simply helping to build a mosque. That was the whole point of the reductio argument of fixing the toilet in a mosque, etc. You said you would do that, but you haven't shown how that is any less "participating in false religion" than contributing money.

I deny that either scenario is supporting a false religion! First of all, not all in Islam is false. Muslims, still, e.g., have children and frown upon contraception and cohabitation and fornication. In all these ways they do far better than most Protestants and Catholics, so they preserve those truths that Christians have largely forsaken.

Secondly, such gestures can be classified as diplomatic acts of charity. The Muslim knows it doesn't mean that the Christian believes in Islam, but the act creates good will and harmony: a most desirable end indeed.

"If you show me an instance where Jesus or Paul clearly gave money to the building of an unbeliever's place of worship, I'll concede Meurer was right." My statement may not be accurate enough, since I was really addressing the third way we spend money (willfully to support something). None of the passages you mentioned did that. In fact, in my opinion, none of them even remotely hinted at that.

I've now shown with several examples, Christians after Pentecost (including Paul, Peter, and John) worshiping in the regular Temple services or at synagogues. Now, almost certainly both the Temple and the synagogues had some sort of money collection (rabbis and priests had to eat and have some sort of shelter and clothing, after all).

So all they had to do was contribute to that and therefore they would be contributing to the religion of Judaism, which denies the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation, the Resurrection of Jesus, and other aspects of Christianity, though it also agrees with much of what we believe (and I would argue that Christianity is a consistent development of the OT and OT Judaism, and that Jesus did not even overturn the Law; only modified it and taught a different application -- Matt 5:17-20).

One could easily argue that post-Christian Judaism takes a far lower view of Jesus than Islam does. After all, Islam regards Jesus as a prophet, whereas the early Jews after the resurrection thought he was a false prophet, false Messiah, and possessed by a demon. Therefore, the early Christians supported a (partially) false religion (Judaism) by not only money but also direct participation in its worship services.

Ergo: it is completely biblical to partially support the building of a mosque with a financial contribution, since this is a lesser participation than what the early Christians like Paul, Peter, and John did when they worshiped with Jews, and to a religion that takes a higher view of Jesus than Judaism itself does.

Case closed. Your objection has now collapsed in ruins, and on the basis of the Bible alone. Isn't "Bible only" religion fun???

This website is an example of how RCs and PTs have improved relations, and to the best of my knowledge Dave hasn't sent a check to my church's building fund. Or is that check in the mail Dave?

In fact, my last charitable contribution was to a local inner-city Protestant ministry in Detroit called Joy of Jesus. I donated our old van (not worth much at all, and on its last legs, I hasten to add) to a place that re-sells it and gives the money to a charity of one's choice.

That is a good example, because I am contributing to a Protestant group that is doing important work that I agree with (inner-city evangelism and restoration). Part of that is, no doubt, proclaiming the Protestant gospel of "faith alone" and sola Scriptura, etc., but that doesn't mean I shouldn't contribute because I don't agree with every jot and tittle. That is rarely the case.

There are largely good and true things (e.g., Protestantism), partially good and true things (Judaism and Islam), mostly bad things (political liberalism, secularism), and wholly evil things (abortion and the abortion establishment).

I would say that one could donate in good conscience to the largely good and true things and partially good and true things.

It is rare to be able to have complete consistency in such matters. For example, I think abortion is absolutely evil in all cases. But George W. Bush (and his father) think it is permissible (or should be legal) in cases of rape, incest, and the life of the mother. I disagree with that, but between Bush and Kerry, the choice was clear who to pick (and the Catholic Church allows one to make those choices).

By your strict, illogical mentality, I was, therefore, supporting the evil murder by abortion of a child conceived in rape, in voting for President Bush. But in my opinion, that is a classic case of voting for the "lesser of two evils." Politics is like that. So is life in general, oftentimes (probably more than most of us would care to admit).

So I would help a Muslim in a material sense, without compromising my religious beliefs in the least.

We know the Jews worship the same God as Christians do; so to attend a church where they were preaching genuine Godliness isn't a problem. We agree that Jesus didn't come to replace the law but to fulfill it (Matt 5:17-19), so sitting with Jews who were learning about the LORD was acceptable. But I'm pretty confident Paul didn't partake of any sacrifices after his conversion. I presume none of the Apostles did since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice. There would have been a definite distinction between the way the Jews worshipped and the way the Christians worshipped even if they did sit in the same "service".

You still haven't shown that they unnecessarily donated money. You presume they did, but you haven't shown it. You can't declare victory based on circumstantial, unsubstantiated, unprovable evidence. I guess you CAN since you seemed to do so, but one shouldn't.

You claim my argument is inconsistent, but I'll restate it one more time. If it doesn't make sense, we may just have to agree Grubb doesn't make sense. The job one works on doesn't require consent or support. My company (a retail company) analyzes sales by department. I think they should analyze sales by items. But I write programs that show them sales data by dept. Am I supporting their decision by writing the program? No, I'm trading my programming skills for their money. In this situation, I'm not supporting their business decision.

When I GIVE money to someone without expecting to get anything back, I'm showing support. You gave a van (a very nice gesture indeed) to the inner city organization and support what they're doing. If you didn't support their mission, you'd have given your van to another organization. I don't give my "charitable" money to organizations I disagree with. Without expecting to get anything back to what do you give money that you DON'T support? Even if you don't like PTism in its entirety, you do support what that inner city group is doing. Right?

Try this experiment: sell a charitable organization a $10,000 van; and give a different charitable organization a $10,000 check. Would the two charities say the same thing about you? No!! The 1st would say, "Dave's ok. He sold us this van for $10k. Nice guy." The 2nd would say, "Dave is amazing!! He gave us $10k. That's 10 THOUSAND dollars!! He must REALLY love the work we're doing!!" And even if you didn't support what they were doing, you must see that some (maybe even most) could construe that you do. Don't you agree there's a difference in the two scenarios?

I've asked this three times or more now. Couldn't Meurer have come up with a better way to spend 500 Euros (like sponsoring the first "social" or helping needy Muslims pay their electricity bill) without donating the money to the mosque building fund?

I understand that laying bricks to build a mosque and giving 500 Euros to help build a mosque are both materially participating in building the mosque. I didn't want to pause the conversation without that being known.

The huge hang-up I have (and the place where I think the two are different) is that one is simply trading money for services without showing any intellectual ascent to their ideology and the other is (or at the very least can appear to be) supporting the organization's cause or showing that one believes in the cause of the organization. To RCs who don't attend church regularly, they might say, "I suppose the church is ok with Islam now. It's come to this, has it?" and be discouraged. But if the money had been used to pay a needy Muslim's power bill, he a) would never hear about it, or b) would realize the church is helping the lost.

We know the Jews worship the same God as Christians do

They do? Then why do they object to us? Where's the beef? The beef is, of course, precisely over the nature of God, because we say Jesus is God and they think that is blasphemous. Our God has three Persons. Theirs has one. Their God is essentially the same as the Father in the Trinity, but that is not the same God, because there is no God the Son or God the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, if you think the Jewish God is the same -- enough to allow for common worship -- then you would have to think the same about Jehovah's Witnesses and the Christadelphians (Arian groups). Would you worship with them? Would you help build a Kingdom Hall?

But I'm pretty confident Paul didn't partake of any sacrifices after his conversion. I presume none of the Apostles did since Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice.

That's exactly what Peter and John did in Acts 3:1, as I already showed you. They went to the Temple service that was specifically for sacrifice.

You still haven't shown that they unnecessarily donated money. You presume they did, but you haven't shown it.

I don't have to have it in black and white. Jewish services like any other would have collections. Since I've shown that early Christians participated in such services it is not unreasonable at all to assume that they most likely contributed financially. And there were tithes and taxes, too.

But it doesn't matter anyway because to actually participate in a non-Christian service is to give it far more sanction than to simply give money for building a building where such a service is conducted. The person is right there worshiping with the others!

And Islam has a higher view of Jesus than Judaism does, as I explained already too. Judaism has falsehood just as Islam does. And both contain truth.

When I GIVE money to someone without expecting to get anything back, I'm showing support.

When I worship with someone in a religion that has just rejected the Messiah and the Son of God (as the early Christians did), I am showing more "support" even than giving them money.

Try this experiment: sell a charitable organization a $10,000 van; and give a different charitable organization a $10,000 check. Would the two charities say the same thing about you? No!! The 1st would say, "Dave's ok. He sold us this van for $10k. Nice guy." The 2nd would say, "Dave is amazing!! He gave us $10k. That's 10 THOUSAND dollars!! He must REALLY love the work we're doing!!" And even if you didn't support what they were doing, you must see that some (maybe even most) could construe that you do. Don't you agree there's a difference in the two scenarios?

Yes, of course. But we're not just talking about different forms and levels of giving; also in this discussion is the question of whether acts of charity imply sanction or agreement with the religion of the one that is helped.

I say it (rather obviously) does not necessarily. You seem to think that it does. It's the falsehoods in the religion that you object to, so you don't want to give any money at all. I am saying that you can give money for reasons other than supporting the religion. It doesn't necessarily imply religious agreement at all.

Couldn't Meurer have come up with a better way to spend 500 Euros (like sponsoring the first "social" or helping needy Muslims pay their electricity bill) without donating the money to the mosque building fund?

See, now this is exactly what I am talking about. You use the value judgment "better." I don't see much difference. The Muslim knows that the Christian doesn't accept Islam anyway, and doesn't think otherwise just because he chipped into a building fund. The Christian (unless he is a liberal, indifferentist, wishy-washy type) knows this. Everyone pretty much knows.

I have no problem whatsoever with someone (like you) deciding as an individual, in good conscience, that he shouldn't contribute to such a fund. But it is a matter of conscience and not a moral absolute; this is where we differ. When you try to apply your own feelings on the matter to others and say they are wrong, you go astray, because you do so on insufficient grounds (and as it turns out, contrary to the relevant biblical examples).

The huge hang-up I have (and the place where I think the two are different) is that one is simply trading money for services without showing any intellectual ascent to their ideology and the other is (or at the very least can appear to be) supporting the organization's cause or showing that one believes in the cause of the organization.

This is your fallacy. It doesn't follow that one supports the religious view in so doing: not in its entirety. I used my own example of donating to a Protestant inner-city charity. As a Catholic I wouldn't agree with everything they do. In my mind I was donating to the inner-city work. That is the good cause I feel that I am furthering.

Same thing with Islam: one could give to a building fund on the grounds that this keeps Muslim kids on a morally straighter path; it promotes at least monotheism (and that is what Judaism is too); good family values, basic moral teachings ("do not steal," etc.) and so forth. One is supporting those things and showing charity towards a non-Christian neighbor.

Very few things in concrete, day-to-day life are absolutely clear-cut, morally and metaphysically perfect without any error or sin in them at all. We've discussed before on this blog how we all buy goods made in China. Well, China (a Communist country) has slave labor and forced abortions and atrocious persecution of Christians and other religions. We definitely help to keep that system going by massive purchases of their goods. It very well might collapse but for our huge financial support (while Taiwan, a civilized country, isn't even allowed into the United Nations, if I recall correctly).

You do that, I do it. I would venture to guess that 99.9% of people in America have items in their house that are made in China. Do you plan on getting rid of all that and not buying any more? Why do you keep supporting an evil, anti-religious governmental system by buying their products? You'll do that but you wouldn't give a dime to a mosque fund for pious Muslims to worship in?

This is a good example, I think, because it shows the complexity of cause and effect, and how we are all involved in such situations and how it would be quite difficult to be perfectly consistent.

Then there are the host of companies that fund the abortion industry. If we all stopped buying any products or using services that did that, or stopped watching TV shows that use these advertisers, etc., we'd have to make massive lifestyle changes. Abortion is absolutely evil. Yet virtually all of us are helping it to continue by unwitting purchases of products from companies that promote it. And every person who votes for pro-abortion politicians keeps the killing legal and societally- and legally-sanctioned.

It goes on and on. How about hospitals that perform abortions? Do you make sure that you go to one that doesn't? Etc., etc.

To RCs who don't attend church regularly, they might say, "I suppose the church is ok with Islam now. It's come to this, has it?" and be discouraged.

Ignorance will be with us till the end of time. The thing to do is to educate the ignorant and explain things; not cave in to the ignorance by not doing something that is perfectly acceptable just because they don't understand it.

"Jeb Protestant" asked:

Would you give money to the local Masonic lodge? Would you give money to the JWs [Jehovah's Witnesses] to help build a "kingdom hall"?
I wouldn't, personally. My reasoning would be that they are both corruptions of Christianity. But Islam is a different religion altogether and doesn't entail that sort of "false advertising." I have argued, remember, that this is a matter of conscience. I wouldn't say it is absolutely wrong to contribute to these either, but I wouldn't do it myself. Grubb, on the other hand, seems to be arguing that it is a matter of absolute right and wrong, and that one sanctions the religious beliefs of the group one contributes to, in so doing. I deny this, and my "fixing the toilet and the roof" examples were designed to show the difficulty of maintaining that point of view.