Archive for February 2010

James White, Romans and Justification

February 25, 2010

I would like to respond to James White’s recent YouTube video on Tim Staples and “Allowing the Word to Speak”. The video is impressively made, but some of its claims provide and excellent illustration of some of the main problems I have with White’s apologetics. First of all the title of the video is already deceptive. It gives the impression that what White will do is to “let the Word of God speak”, whereas his opponent’s exegesis is nothing but a mere twisting of the Word.

But obviously what one really gets is White speaking, using verses here and there to make his case. This is the whole problem with Sola Scriptura. White himself recognizes at the beginning how harmful private Bible studies can be, when Scriptural texts are considered in isolation etc. Then he goes on to give the impression that Catholic apologists use a methodology “common in many false religions” where they jump from text to text without considering the context. In contrast to this, White is going to help the viewer to understand the “flow of thought” in Romans. Only thus can one appreciate what the passages really mean.

I certainly have no problem admitting that one needs to understand the whole argument of Romans in order to correctly exegete particular passages, and I certainly agree one should try to follow the “flow of thought” of the Apostle Paul. What I don’t grant, however, is that White’s exegesis is at all the most obvious one. How does one enter the mind of the Apostle? Just by reading Romans? By listening to White? I’ve done both, but I’ve read enough Pauline scholarship to know it’s much more complicated than that.

The sad thing is that White wants to convey the idea that the Reformed doctrine somehow objectively and perspicuously follows from the “flow of thought” in Romans, whereas the rest are “false religions” that jump from text to text without considering the context. Well the truth is that I’ve seen some of the worst examples of the above-mentioned methodology on Reformed websites – and somehow I feel this in itself isn’t enough to make Calvinism a false religion. So I would call White to a higher level of honesty and to admit that these methods are used by people in the true religion as well as in false religions.

And yes, I would even dare to say James White often emphasizes a couple of verses without following the whole “flow of thought” in the book of Romans. If you read White’s books, watch his videos, listen to his debates, you will find him talking about Romans 4:3-8 and 5:1 all the time, but you won’t really hear him talk about any of Romans 6, although justification language abounds there as well. The reason of course is that there justification is connected with baptism and then obedience, which doesn’t fit into White’s flow of thought at all.

You’ll also see White jumping from Romans 4-5 to 2. Cor 5:21 or to a general statement of Reformed theology (as in this video at 13:10), asserting that our sins are imputed to Christ and his righteousness is imputed to us, although Paul nowhere states so. This is a grave violation of the apostolic argument. I would recommend N.T. Wright’s book Justification to anyone that would like to see how someone really trying to follow through the whole argument, to think Paul’s thoughts after him, can end up with a totally different interpretation of the Pauline Gospel.

Just one example, Romans 2:13. To say that this verse is evidence for a future justification by doing the law is, according to White, to ignore the context and “Paul’s intention”. I wonder who White is to tell us what was going on in the mind of Paul – has he entered it, does he infallibly know it? He claims to give us “the entire message of the book of Romans”, that “there’s no one who does the Law except Jesus”. Interesting, so this is the whole message of the book of Romans. I wonder why it never says that in Romans, then… yes, it says all have sinned, but it also talks about those who keep of fulfil the law in 2:27, 8:4 and 13:8, and they’re not Jesus.

James White declares that “Romans 2 is talking about Jews”, N.T. Wright thinks it’s talking about Christians who do the law in the Spirit. Both views can be argued for. And to be frank with you I’m not sure what Romans 2 is about and how it fits with Romans 3. It might be one way or the other, and these aren’t the only alternatives out there. Heikki Räisänen’s Paul and the Law argues Paul is simply self-contradictory. That, too, is a possible reading when one “allows the text to speak” without external doctrinal eyeglasses on.

What, then, shall we say? I hope this has helped once more to illustrate how James White, like many other apologists, can use convincing language and present himself as someone who “truly knows” the Word of God in opposition to those that twist it. In reality, White is not the only one who has read the Scriptures and tried to follow their argument as closely as possible. And the fact is that many of these other people come up with very different interpretations of the most central truths of the Gospel. That is again why we need to look at the Tradition as well as the Scriptures. Study Paul, yes, but don’t think you’re exempt from the many things hard to understand therein. Listen to the Church as well.

James White’s argument on latria and dulia

February 12, 2010

James White is known to oppose the traditional distinction between latria and dulia on the grounds that it is an unbiblical distinction. He has argued his case for example in his debate on the Communion of saints against Patrick Madrid, on the Dividing Line against William Albrecht and in this blog post. William Albrecht then posted a response via Robert Sungenis’ website. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

First, I should thank James White for being honest about the Catholic doctrine in his debates against Muslim apologists who have claimed that Catholics worship Mary along with God and Jesus. White has explained the Church denies the divinity and worship of Mary, adding that his criticism of the Church on this issue has to do with the latria-dulia-distinction. So, even though in White’s terms Catholics do worship Mary, he’s honest enough to tell them the Church doesn’t believe in or teach Marian worship.

White’s main objection lies in the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the same terminology as Catholic theology with regard to latria and dulia. He is adamant that one must derive one’s theology from the Bible, and there is no biblical basis for the latria-dulia distinction in religious contexts (I’ll come back to the “religious context” point later): “You shall worship (latria) and serve (dulia) God alone.” The biblical command seems opposite to the Catholic claim that saints can be paid dulia.

The way I’d like to comment on White’s argument also has to do with Muslims. Namely, I think that White’s argument against Catholic veneration of saints could easily be turned against him by an astute Muslim debater in discussing the Trinity. They could easily point out that the doctrinal formula of mia ousia, treis hypostaseis is unbiblical. Not only does the Bible remain silent about the way the eternal relationship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is to be explained philosophically (the closest it comes is John 1:1), Hebrews 1:3 actually seems to deny the Christian usage altogether.

The passage in question describes the Son as the χαρακτὴρ τῆς ὑποστάσεως of the Father, the very image of his substance. The word for substance here is hypostasis. Now hypostasis is a familiar word from Trinitarian dogma, but the problem is that there it means not the substance but the person. (As an aside, the King James Bible actually translates Hebrews 1:3 as “the express image of his person”.) The word for “substance” or “being” in Trinitarian dogma in ousia, and it is one of the highest priorities in Christian theology not to confuse being and person, as White so often underlines in his presentations of the Trinity to Muslims.

So, what we have here is that the Bible uses some of the same words as later theology uses, but uses them differently, and indeed in diametrically opposite ways. The same is true, it seems to me, in the whole latria-dulia-issue. Later theology can define its own terms, the Bible is simply not meant to do that for us. If Hebrews 1:3 doesn’t prove the Christian doctrine of the Trinity is unbiblical, neither can the Bible reject the latria-dulia-distinction. The Bible predates both of these theological controversies and doesn’t address them as such.

Religious context?

Now a couple of words about White’s major follow-up against Catholic apologist who cite biblical evidence for an appropriate application of dulia to men. White has said that dulia can be given to men in a non-religious context, but in a religious context it is inseparable from latria. He says the same of proskyneo, another Greek word related to worship or obeisance. Albrecht answered this by asking who defines a religious context and providing examples of seemingly religious-context-dulia paid to men (Joshua 5:14, 1 Chronicles 29:20).

I gather that what White has in mind when he talks about a “religious context” is bowing to statues and lighting candles before them. Here is White’s argument in his own words: “A man is caught bowing down before a Baal in Moses’ day in his tent. He is brought before Moses, and when asked for a reason for his idolatry, the man replies, ‘Oh, that wasn’t idolatry. Don’t you know that someday, in a language that will come into broad use in about 3,000 years, you will be able to argue for a less strict use of the term?’ I’m sure that would go over about as well as the, ‘Oh, I wasn’t worshipping the idol by bowing down and lighting candles before it, I was giving it dulia instead’ excuse.”

White’s argument might impress some of the people on his side, who assume that statues depicting glorified saints in the New Covenant are just the same as statues depicting non-existent pagan gods. They can assume that prayers directed to demons are just as bad as intercessory petitions to the great cloud of witnesses. But from our perspective there’s a big difference between a false god and a heavenly brother/sister in Christ. No homage is due to the former, but due veneration is definitely due to the latter. White’s example is mere rhetoric, it’s no argument at all.

The fact is that the Bible doesn’t address the issue of New Covenant saint veneration in any great detail. One of the major reasons is the fact that the first generation of saints was still largely alive. But very soon the militant Church felt a true and lively connection to the triumphant Church, death had not separated brothers in Christ from each other. And so early Christians painted pictures of saints in Roman catacombs, asked for their intercession in inscriptions, sang hymns to Mary, and so forth. If there are abuses, they should be fought, but it is an unfortunate break from Christian tradition and piety to start claiming that the old and venerable practice of honoring the saints is unbiblical and forbidden by God.

Peter Dimond vs. James White on justification

February 10, 2010

The two people I’ve been dealing with in my previous posts, James White and Peter Dimond, have actually confronted each other as well, at least on one occasion. On this YouTube video you can hear br. Peter calling James White’s radio program, wanting to debate justification (or perseverance, or losing salvation, however you’d like to put it). What then follows is a 15-minute discussion on Ephesians 5:5-8, Romans 8:28-32, etc. Sometimes the dialog makes me smile, sometimes it makes me roll my eyes. Here are my comments.

Since I obviously agree more with br. Peter on the basic doctrines of soteriology, and since the video is on White’s channel serving his apologetics purposes (he gets to give the 7-minute commentary at the end, making it look like it was a clear victory for him), I will have more to say against White than against Dimond. However, I do think Dimond deserves some criticism, which is what I’ll start with.

Dimond’s defects

First off, Dimond’s major argument isn’t a very good one to begin with. Eph. 5:7 doesn’t “clearly prove” (note the language again – I talked about this in my previous post) that a justified man could lose his salvation, all it says is that Christians shouldn’t be partakers with people who will be excluded from the Kingdom of God. One needs to make huge assumptions about the word “partakers” and about the consequences of disobedience to this exhortation in order to think this verse teaches what Dimond thinks it “clearly proves”. Nor does Trent’s Decree on Justification use this passage to argue that one can lose salvation.

Secondly, Dimond doesn’t get White at all most of the time. When White asks about being baptized and not gaining justification (he seems to mean final justification i.e. what he would rather call glorification), Dimond starts talking about adults putting an obstacle and receiving the mark but not the character of baptism. But worst of all, Dimond doesn’t really seem to understand White’s main argument: what is it in Romans 8 that makes Dimond think that 8:30 talks only of a small part of all the justified, and not all Christians?

Thirdly, White makes a good point about Dimond’s double standards: Dimond insists on going to passages that define what a Catholic is when he wants to “prove” that the Pope is not a Catholic, but in dealing with justification he won’t go to passages that talk specifically about justification. I’d level the same accusation at him from another angle: Dimond thinks with the mind of the Church in soteriology, but he does the opposite in ecclesiology.

This helps us to understand a fascinating point: the basis on which White dissents from the Church’s teaching on justification is the same basis on which Dimond dissents from the Pope’s Catholicism. Fundamentally, White and Dimond share the same problem of private interpretation, picking their texts and insisting on their interpretations of them, over against the Church. They both have good arguments, but good arguments and a bright mind don’t guarantee truth. It’s at the same time illuminating and terrifying to realize that at least one of these men is really and truly (as long as the law of non-contradiction is valid) in error (both generally speaking and in their criticism of the Church). Here’s where I think White is wrong.

White’s wrongs

First of all, White claims that the Catholic teaching on justification is based on assumptions and eisegesis instead of the text of Scripture, which in his view demonstrates the Catholic belief to be a “doctrine of demons”. Well, the Catholic doctrine, like it or not, is based on the apostolic tradition, always seen by the Church to be evidenced in the Scriptures as well. The Apostles didn’t teach their congregations to forget their oral teachings and then try to come up with a consistent theology from their writings. They taught their converts something, and that teaching can be discovered in early Christian writings.

Now, White recognizes the Catholic doctrine goes “back to Augustine”. This is an interesting admission, and it makes me ask White whether he thinks Augustine believed a doctrine of demons. Was Augustine in the camp of the enemy, and not a true Christian? But White should know, and I think he does, that the Catholic doctrine goes back further than Augustine. It goes back all the way – or can White show us a post-biblical pre-augustinian Christian that believed that justified Christians could not lose their salvation? Were all post-apostolic Christians deceived by doctrines of demons?

White claims Romans 8 demonstrates that what we believe is a doctrine of demons. Well, there’s no discussion of demons there, no discussion of the gravity of various mistaken views on the doctrine of justification. All it says is that God glorified those that he justified. Just like Dimond assumed Eph 5:7 “clearly proves” his position, White assumes Rom 8:30 “demonstrates” his. Both are just as naive. Romans 8:30 is a text open to many interpretations, as a consultation of the various exegetical commentaries would easily demonstrate.

I haven’t studied this enough to make any definitive pronouncements on the verse, but one thought does come to mind. All the verbs are in the past tense – couldn’t this be describing what God has already done to Christians? White is assuming “glorified” means future heavenly glory, but does it have to mean that? And here is where Dimond’s good points come in: there are many passages in Romans itself which give us good reason to question that Paul wanted to teach that all justified Christians would necessarily be ultimately saved.

Dimond cites eg Rom 11:20-22, which White deals with only briefly in a way that isn’t convincing at all. Paul is here talking about Gentiles that stand in the new people of God “by faith”, having God’s favor or “goodness”. If we are consistent in our Calvinistic or Catholic theology, we must admit these people have been justified. And yet Paul says they will be cut off and merit God’s severity if they do not continue in God’s goodness, if they lose their faith. What God did to unbelieving Jews, he can and will do to Christians, who do not persevere in faith. I could add Rom 8:13 from Romans 8 itself – addressing to Christians a real threat of “death” if they live according to the flesh.

I should add that these passages, as well as others also cited by the Church’s official teaching at Trent (eg 1 Cor 6:9-10 and 10:12), have led world-class Pauline scholars to conclude that Paul really did believe that one could lose one’s salvation. It’s not as if the Catholic Church simply held on to an external, eisegetical, “infallible” authority, contradicting the clear and perspicuous teaching of Paul, which anyone can see in the text itself. No, many leading Pauline scholars, not clinging to any external infallible authority but trying to understand Paul as well as possible in his own terms, come to the same conclusion as the Catholic Church, and not to the Calvinistic position held by James White.

Concluding comments

There’s much more I could say, but I will save something for later posts, too. One of the funniest things about White’s presentation is his accusing Dimond of assuming that there are these Christians that are justified but won’t be glorified, while he tries to defend his position from the warning passages by assuming a category of non-justified members in the visible Church. This needs to be dealt with in detail later, but suffice it to say that the Catholic understanding of initial justification for all the baptized explains Paul’s words to the Ephesians much better than the Reformed (so clearly tradition-based and not Scripture-derived) view that says the words are really true only of some members.

Another issue is the whole rhetoric about the “man-centered” versus the “God-centered” reading of the Bible. First of all, who defines man-centered and God-centered? It’s not like there are only two ways of reading the Bible, there are hundreds of ways of interpreting biblical soteriology alone. Many of these systems could justly call the Calvinistic interpretation a “man-centered” one (eg. N.T. Wright has done just that in his recent book Justification, and a more radical OSAS system could easily do the same). Second, the whole problem is an unbiblical one – the Bible contains passages about God and man, but no hermeneutic guidelines to harmonize them.

Lastly, I would again point out how smart apologists can use strong words and skillful rhetoric, only to expose their naivety to the critically-minded. According to Dimond it was “obvious” that White didn’t have an answer to Ephesians 5 when White was simply trying to get to the heart of the matter. According to White “everyone”, or “anyone who’s fair-minded” could see that only White wanted to do exegesis. But Dimond was also bringing up a valid exegetical point in regard to Romans 8 needing to be in harmony with Romans 11.

Many people, and especially convinced apologists who believe they’re defending truth, have a hard time admitting that other people can hold opposite beliefs in good faith and with good reasons. They like to think their position alone is reasonable and so clearly true that anyone who would see the evidence and deny it would be dishonest or unfair. Yet reality is very different. We need to proceed on the path of truth with a lot of humility, a willingness to learn, and most of all with a respect for others, because ultimately we must be in it for the salvation of souls.

Sedevacantism and the hermeneutics of discontinuity

February 8, 2010

The Most Holy Family Monastery (MHFM) has posted a huge number of videos on YouTube, all of which I will not attempt to answer. I will, however, deal with one recent video, posted on the 15th of January 2010, claiming to present the “most specific and irrefutable heresy of Vatican II”. I hope this post will illustrate the weak and subjective foundation that the Sedevacantist schism is based on.

The argument of the video is as follows: The Council of Florence declared ex cathedra that anyone who holds a view different from the Catholic Church’s teaching on Jesus Christ or the Trinity is rejected by God. This simply reiterates Matthew 10:33: Jesus will deny the one that denies Jesus. But Vatican II, in Nostra Aetate 4, declared that “the Jews should not be presented as rejected or cursed by God”. Br. Peter Dimond then declares this statement “blatantly heretical”. He cites as his main proof the fact that Vatican II uses the very same verb (rebrobare=to reject) as Florence, but to teach the exact opposite.

Based on this evidence, Dimond says that “there can be absolutely no doubt that Vatican II denies the dogmatic teaching of the Council of Florence”, and that “anyone who would deny that Vatican II teaches heresy, in light of these facts, is simply a liar”. Well, all I can say is that Br. Peter is hereby refuted, because in my mind there definitely is a doubt about whether Vatican II denies the dogmatic teaching of the Council of Florence. Why would the Catholic Bishops want to deny something they all believed one is bound to believe? Even if I’m wrong, the doubt is there, and so Peter Dimond is wrong.

Furthermore, even though I have now seen the “light of these facts”, i.e. two magisterial documents as interpreted by Br. Dimond, plus one linguistic argument by the same man, I can and will still “deny that Vatican II teaches heresy”. Do I do that because I’m “a liar”? No, I do it because the argument doesn’t convince me at all. It’s not that clear and irrefutable, despite all the triumphalistic words of Br. Dimond. Let me illustrate.

St. Paul, in Romans 3:10, writes: “There is none righteous, no, not one”. He is talking about non-Christians. But in the Acts of the Apostles, 10:22, it is stated that Cornelius, a non-Christian, was a “righteous” man. Does this make Acts a “blatantly heretical” book? Let me cite additional evidence. Paul uses the Greek term dikaios in Romans 3:10. But Acts 10:22 uses the very same Greek word, dikaios, to teach the exact opposite! Now, “anyone who would deny that Acts teaches heresy is simply a liar”, right?

Wrong. What we have here is simply a challenge, a difficulty, one out of thousands and thousands of difficulties that can be thought up by comparing all the different data we have in the sources of faith. If even in the canon of Scripture two authors can use the same words in seemingly opposite ways, and yet we believe there is no true contradiction between them, why would we apply a completely different standard to Florence and Vatican II? Why would we insist on a hermeneutic of discontinuity in Church documents while insisting on a hermeneutic of unity in reading the Bible?

As St. Thomas says in the 8th Article of the 1st Question in the Summa, “the contrary of a truth can never be demonstrated”, “the arguments brought against faith cannot be demonstrations, but are difficulties that can be answered”. This is the attitude the Catholic should take with regard to the Scriptural as well as the Magisterial documents. I’m not sure if I have the right answer to the difficulties presented above, but I treat them as difficulties, not as demonstrations of the falsity of the faith. One possible answer to the Nosta Aetate problem would be that the point of the document is to say that God hasn’t rejected Jews in the sense that he still wants them to be saved (and that through the Church, which has just been called the new people of God).

But the main point, I think, has been established. Although MHFM wants to make it look like Vatican II is clearly and irrefutably heretical, it’s not all that objective after all. It comes down to one’s subjective, fallible opinions on which arguments demonstrate what, and most of all it comes down to one’s hermeneutics. If we want to find problems and contradictions, we’ll find them. If we want to solve contradictions and find the unity, we’ll succeed in that as well. The question is simply whether we want to argue against or with the living, hierarchical Church. Who do the promises in Mt 16:18, 28:20, John 16:13, etc, apply to?

James White’s presuppositions

February 5, 2010

In my first post on James White, I tried to articulate some thoughts on what could be called presuppositionalism and evidentialism, that is, on the balance between one’s religious convictions and the open and self-critical attitude in the face of evidence contrary to one’s position.

Now what I would like to know in dealing with James White, and what I think every listener of his should ask themselves, is whether James White is even in principle open to consider conversion to another faith if faced with a sufficient amount of evidence.

On the one hand, White has admitted he doesn’t consider himself infallible (except perhaps as an interpreter of his own books – we all remember that hilarious cross-examination period with Robert Sungenis), but on the other, at least according to his sister (who converted to Catholicism – but let’s not go there yet), he has stated that he has never seriously considered the possibility that Catholicism might be true.

I would very much like to know if this piece of information is true or false. If true, it casts a shadow on White’s credibility and honesty as a seeker of truth and an apologist who otherwise seems to have made a real (and often succesful) effort in understanding Catholicism. If false, I would like to know where White draws the line between his presuppositions and the evidence.

Sedevacantism and the Most Holy Family Monastery

February 4, 2010

Another immediate reason for putting up this blog was the need to address some of the many issues raised by Sedevacantist apologists such as the Dimond brothers of the Most Holy Family Monastery. They too have an active YouTube channel, not to mention their website www.vaticancatholic.com with many articles attacking the post-Vatican II Church.

So far I am less acquainted with Sedevacantist arguments than Protestant arguments, but since there seems to be much less material out there dealing with Sedevacantists than with Protestants, I feel the need to point out some of the major problems I see with this movement. I hope to study the issues more profoundly as time permits, but for now I’d like to share some insights that will hopefully help readers to think critically with regard to the claims made by the Sedevacantists.

First and foremost, the biggest problem with Sedevacantism seems to me to be the same as the biggest problem with Protestantism, that is, its utter subjectivity and inner divisions due to the lack of a universal authority such as the communion of Bishops headed by the Bishop of Rome. Sedevacantists raise themselves above the Magisterium in judging the Pope or the Church to be in error. They declare their articles and videos to be irrefutable, yet many disagree. It’s one man’s word against another’s.

Yes, they have some good arguments, and so do the Protestants. But the problem is they can’t provide a unified alternative, either. When you look at Sedevacantist websites, you soon get a grasp of the desperate situation the position leads you to. You have no living Magisterium to guide you – you only have your own intellect and the conflicting opinions of others. Each Sedevacantist group or individual is trying to interpret Church documents as coherently as they can, but without an authoritative guide they end up differing from one another and condemning each other as heretics.

Take Most Holy Family Monastery (MHFM), for example. They hold to the strictest possible view of extra ecclesiam, even denying baptism of desire. Gerry Matatics, another Sedevacantist apologist, allows for a certain understanding of baptism of desire. Once friends, the Dimond brothers and Matatics now condemn each other on their websites. MHFM has a whole list of heretics to avoid, most of whom are traditionalist Catholics critical of the post-conciliar Church. Prominent Sedevacantist voices are condemned for supporting Catholics that aren’t traditional enough.

The number of questions dividing the Traditionalists is overwhelming. Is one a heretic if one believes that martyred catechumens can be saved? Is one in mortal sin if one financially supports a validly ordained Novus Ordo priest? What about attending a Traditional Mass where Pope Benedict XVI is prayed for? Was John XXIII a valid Pope, and is one a heretic if one believes the opposite? What about attending a Mass offered by a group that preaches a different understanding of extra ecclesiam? Is one a heretic if one doesn’t absolutely reject the possibility of the current Pope being the true Pope?

Once you start going down this road (whoever doesn’t agree with my interpretation of Tradition is a heretic), you’ll end up believing in extra me nulla salus instead of extra ecclesiam nulla salus. How does one know God’s truth is found in one’s personal interpretations of religious documents, when one is almost alone in the world? Of course it’d be flattering to imagine oneself an end-time prophet.

But God never promised that during the Great Apostasy he would make sure the remnant is sustained through an American YouTube channel, he never indicated that in the Great Tribulation his Truth would survive through the clever articles of an isolated monastery. Rather, it was Peter and the apostolic college that received the promises.

James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries

February 3, 2010

James White is one of the main reasons I put this blog up. I have been following his arguments, listening to his debates, reading his books and watching his YouTube-videos for some years now, and I feel they have not been responded to adequately and extensively enough. I haven’t read all his books and I haven’t listened to all his Dividing Line programs, so I’m sure I’ve missed a lot, too, but I believe I know enough about his work in order to address it in a meaningful way.

In this first post I will not deal with any particular arguments James White is fond of propounding. For now I simply wish to state my intention, which is to start a serious but friendly dialog with Mr. White, or at least with his arguments. Although Mr. White dislikes some Catholic apologists, and some Catholic apologists dislike him, I know it is possible to engage in debate with him in a respectful way, as for instance the examples of Mitch Pacwa and some recent Muslim dialog partners demonstrate.

It goes without saying, I am not afraid to provide the link to Mr. White’s website, which is www.aomin.org. I would even recommend downloading some debates from there. The same goes for the YouTube channel. I believe much of White’s materials against other religions such as Islam, the Mormons or the Jehovah’s Witnesses can be used by Catholics as well, and I am thankful for his work in this respect.

I also think that it can be good for convinced Catholics to know some of the better arguments against Catholicism. If one desires to know and serve Truth, one will have to take into account the various opposing convictions that are out there, and the reasons given for them. As White has pointed out on several occasions, we are all fallible people, and one needs to recognize that one’s trust in a particular religion is, at least from a human perspective, a fallible choice. Others might be right, I might be wrong.

Yet, at the same time, there remains the conviction of faith that is believed to be of supernatural origin, which excludes doubt and which perseveres if and until God permits it to. So far I don’t know for sure where the line goes – on the one hand I am working on the basis of Catholic faith, on the other hand I need to recognize the necessity of a critical mind open to correction. For the basic reasons for my Catholic faith, see the page on Why I believe what I believe.

My trust is in Divine Providence, that God knows what he’s doing, and that his reasons are right, even though sometimes hidden and hard to understand. In manus tuas, Pater.