The upcoming Deeper Truth Debates- what is really contested and a look at fallacies.
UPDATE 10/11. Debate #10 will be on the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption. We are shooting for Friday, November 5th as the first debate.
As we noted in a previous article, Deeper Truth has engaged in an agreement to debate 12 topics:
The Bible Alone (Sola Scriptura)
Faith Alone (Sola Fide)
The real presence in the Eucharist
The Historical church
Purgatory and prayers to and for "the dead"
Mary's perpetual virginity/other children
Mary as Mother of God
Mary as Queen of Heaven
Mary Assumed into Heaven
Do Catholics worship Mary?
Here is a synopsis of what the arguments are, what the burden of proof is and who bears it.
The Bible Alone (Sola Scriptura). Truly the granddaddy of all the reformation doctrines and the foundation of all that the protestant world upholds. It is also (ironically enough) the most clearly indefensible and unscriptural. In fact, this doctrine is so utterly impossible to defend that we have yet to find a single person who has made an honest attempt to do so.
Let's start with their own definition of their own doctrine. Then we will state the Catholic position and what they must prove to demonstrate that theirs is the correct position.
Sola Scriptura definition from Wikipedia (emphasis mine)
While the scriptures' meaning is mediated through many kinds of subordinate authority—such as the ordinary teaching offices of a denominated church, the ecumenical creeds and the councils of the Catholic church, amongst others—sola scriptura in contrast rejects any original infallible authority other than the Bible. In this view, all subordinate authority is derived from the authority of the scriptures, and is therefore subject to reform when compared to the teaching of the Bible. Church councils, preachers, Bible commentators, private revelation, or even a message allegedly from an angel or an apostle are not considered an original authority alongside the Bible in the sola scriptura approach.
Our opponents will pretty much always fall into one of two fallacious approaches;
The Straw Man fallacy where they falsely argue that Catholics do not believe in the Inspiration and/or inerrancy of Sacred Scripture.
The fallacy of Equivocation where they argue that Sola Scriptura, Prima Scriptura and Solo Scriptura are somehow different (they absolutely are not). In this remarkable display of Cognitive Dissonance, the protestant essentially debates himself/herself by trying to tap dance away from the logical consequences of his/her own stated position while still holding to the position. James White does this to hilarious effect and, frankly, sounds like a madman when he does it.
Here are the historically stated arguments of the reformers in support of this position. These are the positions my opponent must prove, and our position on the same. Each proof, according to their own doctrine, made without an appeal to the Church or authority of any other kind.
That they possess a complete and infallible canon of Scripture. That means that not only are the Scriptures, themselves, inerrant but the very canon that verifies and numbers them is also without error. If they cannot positively identify what is/isn't Scripture, their arguments are a non-starter.
That they possess those Scriptures in a manner that is properly and infallibly translated.
That in the sum of all those properly translated Scriptures, are materially present, all doctrines needed for Salvation.
That the Scriptures are so Perspicuous that any person, of his/her own effort can apprehend the meaning of Scriptures that lead to Salvation. This is their own position and they must defend it to win this case.
If my opponent can prove those 4 things, I'll eat my truck.
Faith Alone posits that a mere verbal and intellectual assent to faith is sufficient for Salvation. Though they will deny this at first, their own arguments betray their denials. Lest I be accused of oversimplification, I will cite two of the most often cited (and wholly uncontexted) prooftexts they use. In doing so, I am in no way conceding that these texts are stating what the reformers assert-
Romans 10: 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Ephesians 2: 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
It cannot be stated clearly enough that we are not exaggerating what is posited by this doctrine of devils. Take the words from it's creator (Martin Luther) himself.
“Be a sinner, and let your sins be strong, but let your trust in Christ be stronger, and rejoice in Christ who is the victor over sin, death, and the world. We will commit sins while we are here, for this life is not a place where justice resides… No sin can separate us from Him, even if we were to kill or commit adultery thousands of times each day.” (ref. ‘Let Your Sins Be Strong, from ‘The Wittenberg Project;’ ‘The Wartburg Segment’, translated by Erika Flores, from Dr. Martin Luther’s Saemmtliche Schriften, Letter No. 99, 1 Aug. 1521. – Cf. Also Denifle’s Luther et Lutheranisme, Etude Faite d’apres les sources. Translation by J. Paquier (Paris, A. Picard, 1912-13), VOl. II, pg. 404))
In the debate on this doctrine, Deeper Truth will confront how our opponents are misinterpreting and isolating these above- and a handful of other texts- to create a doctrine fully alien to the one the Apostles bore. We will provide a multitude of Scriptures that our opponents must contend with. Our opponents may try to run from Luther and his words but this creates a difficulty for them because no historical person can be produced who held this view prior to Luther. You cannot concede that Luther was a madman, on the one hand, but say this madman corrected a church in error for more than 16 centuries on the other. At some point, the tree must be connected to the fruit. (Matthew 3)
My opponent must prove that- a verbal and intellectual assent to- faith alone is sufficient for salvation. In other words, that must defend their proposition that Paul's words that "it is not of works" means that works have no part in the process of being saved. Obviously, we contend that Paul's own words refute this ridiculous interpretation.
The Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist is pretty straightforward. This is a central- no, the central- tenet and summit of our faith because it is so seemingly absurd to the senses but so clearly stated in Scripture, as to leave no room for misinterpretation. We would argue that our opponents can make a very strong logical case against this doctrine but in no way, shape, manner or form, can they make a Biblical case. Ironic for those who claim to be Bible alone adherents.
The Historical Church did not believe what the protestants believe, teach what they taught or worship the way they worship. The Historical Church was absolutely Catholic, in every way and at every part of Christian history from the Resurrection forward. Even the Greek form of The Catholic Church is found in Scripture. The Bible flows from this church, not the other way around. To be steeped in history is to cease to be a protestant. This debate is needed to counter the multitudinous accusations of invented doctrines.
The Priesthood was never abolished and the Scriptures are clear on this. It was fulfilled and translated from a temporary and symbolic sacrifice and offering to a saving and eternal sacrifice and offering. Scripture proves this. Simply inferring that the Priesthood ended when the veil was torn in two does not constitute proof. My opponent must prove that the form of worship changed.
Purgatory will be argued as actually taught, not as falsely projected on us by others. We will not defend Purgatory as a second chance for salvation because we don't believe that. Neither will we entertain the notion that we worship the dead or saints. We will defend the Biblical positions that 1. The Communion of Saints (praying for and with each other) extends beyond earth and that 2. Some of the saved souls, who are all going to heaven (none to hell) must first be purified of imperfections.
Mary did not have any other children but Jesus and remained a virgin perpetually. Full stop. We will prove this. Make no mistake.
Mary is the Mother of God. Period. That's it.....are you still reading this? To deny Mary as the Mother of God is- quite frankly- to deny the entire Christian faith.
We will show that Mary is the Queen of Heaven (the real one, not the false on in Jerimiah) by the plain and unimpeachable words of Scripture.
Mary's Assumption into heaven (soul and body) is just as clear and undeniable in Scripture.
No, Catholics do not worship Mary. She is not Divine or a goddess in Catholic theology. She is the most blessed among women (the Bible clearly states this) and She is the highest of all the saints (Again, Biblical) but She is not God or equal with God.
There is a publication out there somewhere that uses the Olde english use of worship in the context of what we call honor. For example, they would even call an earthly judge "Your worship". Even in this writing, the definitions are very much fleshed out so that it is made clear that Catholics only Adore, and ascribe Divinity to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Period.
We will deal with the subject of Marian Apparitions in general terms. First, not all alleged apparitions are approved by the church. Second, even the ones that are approved- such as Lourdes, Fatima etc are considered private revelation and are not binding doctrines that the church must believe under pain of sin.
That being said, do I believe that the Mother of Jesus appeared to Bernadette in Lourdes, France? You better believe that I do. Do I have to prove to you that She did? No. Although, looking at the factual evidence, it's pretty hard for you to argue against it.
All I have to prove about Marian Apparitions in general (not each alleged one) is that the messages and signs are consistent with what Scripture says had happened in the past and would happen in the future. That's an easy case to make.
I look forward to comments questions from anyone. Send them to email@example.com