Archive for the ‘James R. White’ category

White vs. Sungenis on Predestination

June 23, 2012

Finally the (almost) full video of the White vs. Sungenis Predestination/Free Will debate is available on Youtube. Again, I will be content with a couple of comments on the debate.

White

Dr. White did a good job in giving a clear presentation and defense of his Reformed position. His rhetorics and conviction were enjoyable to watch, and at times his presentation of the Pauline Gospel was very powerful and authentic. White was strong on some Pauline texts such as Ephesians 1-2 and Romans 8-9, which Sungenis could not match with a very credible exegesis. I would say the same goes for John 6.

White’s weak points, biblically, were in connection with classic passages such as 1 Tim. 2 as well as the warning passages. His exegesis is simply not credible here. “Kings and rulers” doesn’t “define” the passage to mean “groups of people”, a more natural reading would be “especially/including kings and rulers”. And I don’t find it credible that Matthew is simply describing the persevering faith of the elect in “who perseveres to the end will be saved” or that Paul really meant that no regenerate person would ever deny God when he said “if we deny him”.

Sungenis

Dr. Sungenis did a good job in putting the whole debate into perspective in terms of Church history. For most of the debate, it seemed to me that both debaters were stuck in the 16th or 17th century, claiming that “the Bible teaches/does not teach” this or that and trying to harmonize difficult passages with little credibility. But in his closing statement Sungenis in my opinion got the better of White by admitting some sort of a plurality of theologies in the Bible (which is now widely recognized by both Catholic and Protestant Scripture scholars) and pointing to the need of a unified Church.

Sungenis was weak, however, in over-idealizing the Catholic position – as if the Catholic Church really took all Scripture at face value (this White successfully countered) and as if “making distinctions” was not a plague (if not a blessing) of Catholic as well as Protestant theology (just have a look into the Thomist TULIP suggested by James Akin to get an idea). Sungenis also lost credibility by not understanding basic Reformed concepts and terminology (or not being able to repeat a word like theocentric [not theopocentric]).

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would say that both won in a sense. White won, because the resolution is correct: the Bible does not teach, explicitly, that man has free will to accept or reject the Christian faith, and White was able to show that the Bible teaches that God effectively saves through Christ in the Spirit.

On the other hand, Sungenis won because he could show that the Bible in other places assumes that man does have the freedom to accept or reject the salvific Gospel, and that White’s one-sided theology taken to its logical conclusions leads to absurdities (denominationalism, a very questionable view of God).

To me, the best solution is to keep what is good from both sides. First, stay Catholic – there is no reason to jump into the ocean of denominations and interpretations over these issues. Second, take seriously the sovereignty of God in salvation, give all the glory to him, while working out with fear and trembling what he has given and promised us.

Sungenis vs. White on Purgatory

June 11, 2012

Just a couple of words on the Sungenis vs. White debate on Purgatory (beginning missing, but see parts 1 and 2 here and here). In my judgment the debate was rather even on 1 Cor 3, but it focused on it too much, precisely its openness to interpretations requires that it be put in a larger context of Scripture and Tradition. Here I must say that White did a better job, he problematized the doctrine in the light of the development of dogma, which Sungenis didn’t really address (eg. by discussing the patristic evidence in depth).

White’s biggest problems seemed to be his terminological distinctions, first of all the idea of legal punishment as opposed to disciplinary punishment. To me he seemed to have a double standard using this criterion – it only works against Catholicism (there “punishment” immediately means “legal punishment”) but for his own position (there punishment can be fatherly discipline). The Calvinistic distinctions between different sorts of judgments also seem a bit contrived sometimes.

On the other hand, I couldn’t believe that Sungenis would attack White on the basis of distinctions and different judgments. As White pointed out, Catholic theology is full of all kinds of distinctions unknown to early Christian theology. And the claim that for the Catholic Church there is only one judgment, the final one, is simply false, and in fact completely destructive to a defense of Purgatory, to which (according to standard Catholic theology) people are consigned at the particular judgment at their death rather than the final judgment, after which there is only eternal life or eternal death.

The most interesting part of the debate was Sungenis’ rather liberal comment that he believes White will go to heaven. White interpreted that, giving Sungenis the benefit of the doubt, in preconciliar terms as conversion to Catholicism. That, however, doesn’t seem to be what Sungenis meant. It sounded much more like a postconciliar statement to the effect that the Holy Spirit works salvifically in non-Catholic Christians as well.

This raises interesting questions. If one can be saved even though one consciously and publicly opposed Catholic dogmas, then dogmas are not necessary for salvation, in which case they are no longer dogmas in the traditional sense. In other words, Purgatory might exist, and we might even have good reasons to think it exists, but if we follow the logic of Vatican II, its dogmatic status has been relativized if not done away with.

Catholic Answers on Papal Infallibility

February 6, 2012

Since Catholic Answers is the largest Catholic apologetics organization, many people interested in apologetics on a popular level rely on their materials. I also used to be one of those who thought, more or less: “If it appears in the pages of C&F [Karl Keating’s Catholicism and Fundamentalism], it must be true!” (That is how James White put it in this article.)

The Catholic Answers tract on Papal Infallibility is still substantially the same, decades after C&F and over a decade after White’s criticism. White did receive two responses (links provided at the end of the article), but the Steve Ray link doesn’t work, so there is really only one, by Scott Windsor.

Scott Windsor’s response is, I concur with White, in stark contrast with the scholarship provided by White. The patristic Peter-quotes are provided with no awareness of the fact that these do not necessarily need to have anything to do with the Bishop of Rome.

Also, the “three conditions” for infallible statements are not those of Pastor Aeternus, and anyway Vatican I interpreted its conditions much more widely than these modern apologists. By the standards of the intention of Vatican I, the Zosimus case is indeed a strong argument against the dogma.

The Catholic Answers Tract on Papal Infallibility

Treating the inadequacy of Keating’s patristic arguments as established by White’s article, I would like to take a look at the rest of the arguments made by Keating in favor of papal infallibility. I will also deal with Jason Evert’s article “How to Argue for Papal Infallibility“.

Keating’s article begins by saying what papal infallibility is not. Among other things, it is not only the Pope that is infallible but also the bishops in union with him (the ordinary and universal magisterium), when they solemnly teach a doctrine as true. This teaching, first taught officially at Vatican II (LG 25), Keating claims we have “from Jesus himself” in Lk 10:16 and Mt 18:18.

Jesus didn’t say anything about the infallibility of the ordinary and universal magisterium in solemn doctrinal teachings. He said that people would be hearing his voice when the 70 disciples preached the gospel of the Kingdom (Lk 10:16) and that the Apostles could forgive sin and excommunicate (Mt 18:18).

The infallibility of the ordinary and universal magisterium is a product of the Counter-Reformation, as far as we know, and it has never been dogmatically defined. The same goes for the infallibility of ecumenical councils, which was first suggested by Theodore Abu Qurra in the 9th century.

Early Church and development

Keating goes on to say that the doctrine of papal infallibility is not a doctrine that suddenly appeared in the Church. But the historical study of Brian Tierney suggests just that: it appeared rather suddenly in the Middle Ages. I am not aware of Catholic Answers materials dealing with Tierney.

Keating basically admits that the doctrine was not taught explicitly in the Bible or in the early Church, rather, it is “implicit” in the early Church and in the three Petrine texts (Mt 16, Lk 22, Jn 21). He admits that Christians “developed” an understanding of papal infallibility, and the “clear beginnings” of this development are seen in the early Church.

Here Keating cites Cyprian and Augustine, and these are the texts James White shows do nothing to show these fathers believed in papal infallibility. One might defend Keating’s tract by saying he only talks of the beginnings of a development. But Keating does not even try to justify his “development” approach which runs counter to the “doctrinal immutability” approach taken by Vatican I.

Maximalism or minimalism?

Under “Some Clarifications” Keating makes some general comments about infallible definitions, implying that there are quite many of them in the end, when you combine those of the Popes, the councils and the “ordinary magisterium” (he must mean “ordinary-and-universal”). Later, citing Knox, Keating seems to affirm that all the anathemas of the Popes throughout the centuries are infallible.

But at the same time Keating points out there are many teachings which haven’t been defined and that infallibility only applies to “solemn, official teachings on faith and morals, not to disciplinary decisions or even to unofficial comments on faith and morals”. He does not specify what he means by “solemn” and where simply “official teachings on faith and morals” would belong (these, of course, are the most common!).

This ambuguity is quite standard. The positive presentation only excludes discipline and unofficial teachings from infallibility. But when cases of erroneous official doctrine are presented, the defender retreats to the word “solemn” and restricts infallibility to only a few cases. Usually it is not asked how the distinction between doctrine and discipline has traditionally been understood and whether it was Vatican I’s intention to restrict papal infallibility to only a few cases.

The same applies to the examples from the Bible and Church history. The Gal. 2 case as well as the cases of Liberius, Vigilius and Honorius are dismissed because they do not meet the requirements for an infallible definition set out by Pastor Aeternus. It is not asked how the Council Fathers interpreted these requirements, nor is it asked whether such distinctions were recognized by Jesus and the Apostles or the early Church.

A case in point is Honorius the Monothelite. The tract cites Knox, who resolves the problem by saying that Honorius was an inopportunist who decided not to define doctrine. I wonder whether Knox and Keating are confusing two things. Honorius did not take a stand in the debate over operations, but he did write rather solemnly that we confess one will in Christ. And Ecumenical Councils and later Popes condemned him for that. This Keating ignores. Was Honorius wrong, or were those later condemnations wrong?

Speculation with unproven assumptions

Keating continues with a theological speculation about infallibility where he states the Tridentine understanding of infallibility: “[The Church] must prove itself to be a perfectly steady guide in matters pertaining to salvation.” But this can be maintained with a general indefectibility and without solemn papal additions to the deposit of the faith (such as the Marian dogmas).

A related argument goes as follows: if the Church ever apostatized by teaching heresy, then it would cease to exist; “because it would cease to be Jesus’ Church”. This is naive. As long as there are people baptized and believing in Christ and gathering in his name and as long as the Eucharist is celebrated, the Church endures.

One would need to define “heresy”, “Church”, “apostatize”, and see how these terms have been understood throughout the centuries. We would see that Keating’s logic stands on fallible ground – his assumptions are unnecessary and unapostolic.

One more time Keating commits the same mistake: “Thus the Church cannot teach heresy, meaning that anything it solemnly defines for the faithful to believe is true”. The Church is “God’s spokesman” – 1 Tim 3:15 and Lk 10:16 cited as purportedly evidencing the same mindset. Of course the Church is God’s spokesman when it proclaims Christ and his gospel faithfully. But this needn’t have anything to do with new dogmatic definitions about Mary in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Again Keating’s above sentence is initially very wide-ranging (the Church cannot teach heresy) and fits well with the idea that the Church is God’s spokesman. But the second sentence restricts this to “anything it solemnly defines”, again leaving the interpretation vague enough to help run from counter-arguments. Keating knows that there are problematic magisterial documents, that Bishops and even local councils can teach heresy, that large parts of the people of God have believed heresy, etc.

No explanation is given why “Church” should be equated with “solemn” (the meaning of which remains unexplained) definitions (also unexplained) of the magisterium (the development of which is also ignored).

Evert’s article

Jason Evert’s article adds little to Keating’s. He often confuses papal infallibility (which he is trying to defend) with the infallibility of the Church. Again 1 Tim 3:15 is cited as well as Cyprian, and, lo and behold, Robert Sungenis! But no patristic evidence is given for this intepretation of Mt 16.

The Irenaeus passage is quoted, again (as almost always) ignoring the fact that Irenaeus has presented the faith/tradition he is talking about in 1,10,1, and it doesn’t include papal infallibility. The same goes for the Sixtus quote: Rome was authoritative because it bore witness to the truth, truth was not made truth by Roman decisions. None of these quotes absolutely preclude the possibility of future error.

Evert also argues from the parallel between inspiration and infallibility. Incidentally, Scott Hahn argued similarly just recently on Catholic Answers Live. “If God could take fallible men and use them as authors of infallible Scripture, why couldn’t he make fallible Popes infallible, too?” Well, of course he could, but this is pure speculation in the absence of evidence that he did.

White’s inconsistent anti-ecumenism

October 9, 2011

James White often talks about the importance of “consistency”. I’d like to point out what I think is the greatest inconsistency in his apologetics, that is, his selective anti-ecumenism.

I remember White saying in one of his Youtube videos that he would be much more popular if he got into the ecumenical movement and recognized Catholics as brothers in the Lord, as many Evangelicals do. But White refuses because of the Letter to the Galatians.

In Galatians Paul presents the Gospel and condemns any attempt to replace it with “another Gospel”. White is a Calvinist and believes his Gospel is Biblical. He knows the Tridentine Catholic Gospel is different, so he quotes Gal. 2:5: “We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.”

I believe White is stuck in the 16th century. A lot has happened since the 16th century. Most significantly, the Catholic Church and the Lutheran World Federation signed a Joint Declaration on justification in 1999, stating justification is “by faith” (and even “faith alone” in the appendix) and that Christ in his person is our righteousness.

Now, White might still disagree with some Catholic teachings as he does with other denominations, but there is no good reason to say the Catholic Church does not have the Gospel. If the Joint Declaration represents a false Gospel, too, then White’s apologetics should be trying to save un-Christian Lutherans as well.

In fact, this is where White’s inconsistency is most evident. In his book on justification White allows no mistake in this doctrine on the basis of Galatians. Yet he recognizes some Arminians as his brothers in Christ, although they differ in some central soteriological issues. What about Lutherans, then?

So if White is going to be consistently anti-ecumenical, let him regard only 5-point Calvinists as Christians. But this he is not going to do, for he knows that the Gospel in Gal 2 was not the TULIP but Christ, and all of us, Catholics, Lutherans, and Arminians, confess and have Him.

James White seems to treat the Catholic Church as a false Church with some true believers inside, those that trust in Christ despite the Church’s official teachings. The rule is negative, with some positive exceptions (although I’ve never heard him name any or talk of any that he knows).

I would suggest to him a more evangelical, a more apostolic and a more 21st century approach: treat the Catholic Church as you do the other Churches and denominations. Recognize they need evangelization, but also recognize they are in the service of evangelization. Feel free to critique, but be slow to condemn.

White’s Gnostic anthropology

August 30, 2011

I’d like to share just one thought that came to be lately when I was reading Irenaeus’ Against Heresies and James White’s writings to the followers of Harold Camping. I noticed a striking similarity in the way Irenaeus presents Gnostic anthropology and the way White deals with his audience.

As a Calvinist, White believes some people are elected and regenerated by God and will thus persevere in grace until the end and be saved. Those who are not part of God’s elect have no chance of salvation. But there is a third group: those that are part of the elect but aren’t regenerate yet.

White has different things to say to each group. The true Christians simply need to repent and return to a Bible-believing church (after realizing Camping’s error). The wicked non-elect will never convert and are not worthy of too much of White’s attention. But the sincere unregenerate seekers White will spend much time with, hoping to be instrumental in God’s plan of saving them.

Irenaeus’ opponents shared a somewhat similar view. According to them, some were by nature spiritual and could never lose their salvation. Others were carnal and had no chance of salvation. A third and final group was animal or psychic and could be saved by faith and good works.

The Gnostics’ main concern were the psychics, i.e., the regular believers in the Church. They believed they were called to be instrumental in bringing this lower class to salvation. Irenaeus was decidedly opposed to this anthropology and defended the free will of man, though not forgetting about God’s grace.

Irenaeus’ God saves not by force but by persuasion. For him all men are created in the image of God and are thus responsible for their choices. If man could not really choose freely, punishment and reward would be pointless. And yet Paul teaches we will all be judged by our works (Rom 2).

In conclusion, the Calvinistic anthropology follows the Gnostic one in classifying people into three different groups, of which only one is really targeted in evangelization. The problem of course is that no individual could ever really know which group someone else belongs to.

The Gospel was given to the Church to preach to all people without distinction. All creatures, all nations, let everyone come and drink the waters of eternal life.

White vs. Sungenis debates

December 21, 2010

I would like to share a couple of comments about the recent White vs. Sungenis debates, on the basis of the Cross Examinations published on Youtube (on Free Will and the Bodily Assumption) and Sungenis’ written response to White’s post-debate comments on a radio show.

White’s challenge to Catholic apologists

I think the debates reflect some of the biggest problems in Catholicism and Catholic apologetics today, and White has put forward “the case against” very well. As I will make clear below, I don’t find White’s position credible either, but he has certainly put a serious challenge to defenders of the Catholic Church, which I believe still needs to be met. Starting with the debate on the Assumption, I will summarize White’s (valid, I believe) arguments (or my development of them) below:

1) The Catholic Church claims the Assumption is a Dogma revealed by God. The sources of revelation are the Scriptures (and Tradition, according to the Catholic Church). But the Dogma is not found in the Bible (or in early Tradition). Thus, the Church is wrong on an “infallible dogma”.
2a) The Church no longer says the Assumption is merely a pious belief, as it was when it first appeared, but it is now binding on all believers (according to the decree issued by the Pope in 1950) in such a way that to deny the Assumption is revealed is to abandon the Faith and become a heretic.
2b) This amounts to a denial of the sufficiency of the Gospel, because there is now additional, new revelation which must also be believed in order to be saved. By what right does the Church add to the Gospel, make a previously pious belief a part of the Regula Fidei? This is a different Gospel (Gal 1:8).

Sungenis’ weak defense

Sungenis’ defense admits that there is no explicit mention of the Assumption in the Bible or in early Tradition (he affirms implicit Scripture support and late patristic support). His argument, then, is that the Church has the right to make infallible decisions without explicit support in Scripture or Tradition, based on his reading of Acts 15. Here, he says, Peter decides to free pagan Christians from the yoke of circumcision, without any explicit support in Scripture or Tradition.

I think White made two good points in response: first, the council in Acts 15 does cite Scripture as support, namely, Amos 9:11. In his written response Sungenis claimed White didn’t answer his question about where this text talks about the cessation of circumcision. Actually White gave a very good answer, pointing out that if circumcised, the Gentile nations (Acts 15:17) would no longer be Gentiles but Jews!

Second, White asked Sungenis whether the Church has infallibly interpreted Acts 15. Sungenis said no. In his written response Sungenis totally misses White’s point here: it is not that non-infallible interpretations are illegitimate! White’s point is simply to show what a fallible business Catholicism is in the end, despite all the talk about infallibility: it all depends on the validity of Sungenis’ interpretation of Acts 15!

This is where White took Sungenis at the end of the Cross Examination, and it was an embarrassing thing to listen to. Sungenis admitted his whole defense of the Assumption falls if his interpretation of Acts 15 falls. In fact even I as a Catholic think that Sungenis’ interpretation of Acts 15 falls. To me it seems clear that the decision in Acts 15 is made in favor of the Gospel, which is the essence of Christianity. The point was precisely not to add any superfluous requirements or obligations to the Gospel, which is salvific on its own (Acts 15:9,11).

Sungenis appealed to Mt 16:18 and Acts 15 to argue that the Church can add new binding dogmas to the Faith. This seems to me to be the opposite of the sense of the texts, which simply show that the Church is in service of the Gospel. White asked how these texts (which in their context have nothing to do with later dogmas) give the right to a man in Rome in 1950 to bind something on all Christians which no Christian in the first 500 years ever bound on anyone?

Is this not a different Christianity, another Gospel? I might add, when did Christians start interpreting the above texts in this fashion (i.e. that the hierarchy has the right to add binding dogmas to the Faith)? Catholic apologists often cite certain texts in defense of the magisterium (1 Tim 3:15, etc), but never address whether this interpretation is exegetically or patristically sound. What if the Church derives her authority and truth simply from the Gospel and faithfulness to it? What if it didn’t receive a right to add new dogmas, what if this is a later invention by the Church itself?

More problems

The way most Catholics would probably respond is to go to the early ecumenical councils, which made all kinds of philosophical definitions, which even White accepts (the homoousios, Chalcedonian Christology, etc). Don’t these add to the Gospel as well? This is a difficult question indeed, and I do believe White’s acceptance of the first 6 councils is a bit arbitrary, as well as his limiting the patristic period to Augustine.

Be that as it may, the counter-argument doesn’t answer the problem but makes it more complex. On the one hand, one could argue that the Christological definitions were necessary, because their substance (Christ’s divinity and humanity) is explicitly taught in Revelation, whereas it is a very different matter with the Marian dogmas, which are late theological developments with no explicit basis in revelation.

On the other hand one could also argue that the Church erred in binding philosophical terminology on believers, without any explicit basis in Revelation. As far as I know, homoousios was a term suggested by the Emperor Constantine, not Scripture or early Apostolic Tradition. And does it really make the difference between Heaven and Hell whether one believed in one or two hypostases in Christ, as long as one affirmed his true divinity and true humanity, one person in two natures?

Are we infallibly sure God doesn’t treat such matters as adiaphora (non-essential)? The Nestorians and the Monophysites believed the Gospel and had the Sacraments, are we really sure they were all damned heretics (looking at ecumenism today, it seems the Church isn’t that sure)? Do we need to edit John 3:16, 1 Cor 15:2 and a host of other passages to suit later dogmatic definitions?

One more note about “new revelation”. Sungenis claimed White doesn’t understand the concept. General Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, whereas private revelations continue as does the presence of the Spirit which helps the Church grow in understanding of the Deposit of Faith. Fine enough, but White’s point remains unanswered: if the Assumption is part of General Revelation, then it is to be found in the sources of Revelation, which it is not. The reason Catholics believe it as revelation is the 1950 definition. This is as good as new revelation. (Btw, in the debate Sungenis himself made the terrible mistake of saying God revealed the doctrine to the Church in 1950! If it was revealed, it was revealed when Mary was assumed.)

Predestination

Briefly on the Predestination debate. Sungenis said it was White’s weakest debate. Based on the Cross Examination, Sungenis was the weak one: he turned Romans 9 into his own (extremely un-pauline) interpretation of the Exodus events, whereas White followed the thought of Paul much more faithfully. Sungenis was right, though, to point out that (White’s reading of) Romans 9 creates a lot of problems, one of them being 1 Tim 2:4.

Sungenis did well in his written response on 1 Tim 2:4. Indeed White’s exegesis here is just as bad as Sungenis’ exegesis of Romans 9. The fact that Paul mentions kings and rulers is a far from clear indication that he only means groups of people and not all people. What to do with the contradiction between Romans 9 and 1 Tim 2:4, I do not know. Better leave it a mystery.

James White and Ignatius of Antioch

August 27, 2010

I’ve been wanting to post a rephrasing of an argument I once formulated on a Youtube video as a response to James White’s video series (actually a clip from the radio show The Dividing Line, as I recall) on Ignatius of Antioch and the Eucharist. Finally, here it is.

What’s the issue?

Catholic apologists often use a quote by st. Ignatius to defend or “prove” the real presence or “transubstantiation”. In it, Ignatius says that some heretics keep away from the Eucharist, because they don’t confess it is the flesh of Jesus Christ, which suffered for us on the cross and which was raised to glory by the Father.

James White is too well educated to take the common Protestant strategy of saying “if it’s not in the Bible…” White realizes Ignatius wrote very early (around AD 107) and was a representative of apostolic Christianity. White uses Ignatius against the Muslims when he wishes to show the early Christians believed in the divinity of Jesus (and he’s right: Ignatius calls Jesus “God” several times).

So what does White do? He accuses the Catholic apologists of taking Ignatius out of context, claiming that they never discuss the context, which is describing the Docetist heresy. The Docetists denied Jesus had a real body at all, so of course they would keep away from a meal that remembered and represented Jesus’ body! White also has a favorite Ignatius quote on the Eucharist, where Ignatius offers a very symbolic interpretation of the body and the blood.

Why White is wrong

I think White’s argument fails on several grounds. Most importantly, I have been aware of the context of the letter for a long time before White told me about it, having read all the apostolic fathers in my mother tongue. I think the context of Docetism makes the case all the more powerful for the Catholic understanding, because Ignatius says that the Eucharist is the very flesh the Docetists deny, the crucified and risen body!

The fact that Ignatius also uses symbolic language is not really an argument against the Catholic understanding, because the same is present both before and after Ignatius as well: in John 6, and in later Church Fathers. The body and blood are both deep in symbolism and really present in the Eucharist. Catholics wouldn’t wish to deny the rich symbolism.

In addition, White didn’t deal with the many other Eucharistic passages in Ignatius which strongly support the Catholic understanding: that the Eucharist is medicine for immortality, that we celebrate it on an altar, that Satan is conquered by frequent Eucharistic celebration…

Transubstantiation and consistency

The last point that needs to be made concerns transubstantiation. Yes, it is a concept based on Aristotelian philosophy, and the Apostles as well as Ignatius wouldn’t have been thinking in those categories. If some apologists carelessly say Ignatius “proves transubstantiation”, they should be instructed to present the matter in a more sophisticated way. (Ignatius bears witness to a reality of faith which was later explained using more precise philosophical terminology.)

This argument of White’s is the most destructive for his own apologetics against Islam, because he defends such philosophical concepts as homoousios and the distinction between hypostasis and ousia, which were categories equally unknown to the Jewish Apostles. As White explained in a recent debate on the Trinity, the Church had to (as it still has to) present the faith in the terms used by the culture it faced. Same thing here.

James White often asks for consistency from his (especially Islamic) opponents. The same could be asked of him in terms of the above argument. Either oppose the mixture of Greek philosophy with Christian dogmas altogether, or then stop arguing against transubstantiation. Furthermore: either stop using Ignatius of Antioch as a representative of orthodox Christianity, or stop arguing that the Catholic understanding of the Mass is a false Gospel.