Archive for the ‘Worship’ Category

Rap on Reformed Worship

March 8, 2012

The Sola System has produced the following rap video, which provides an argument for Reformed worship in the style of a rap (apparently recorded back in 2008):



Disintegration of Families …

February 2, 2012

James Jordan has a new post in which he criticizes churches where families sit together for worship (a practice that has at least hundreds of years of practice in the Americas).  He claims:

The simple fact is that for 2000 years, the Holy Spirit moved the church to have men and women sitting separately during divine worship.

I can easily guess where he gets this idea.  Among the Eastern Orthodox, particularly the “old believers” there is a tradition of separating males and females to different sides of the church during the service.  The women go on the side with the large icon of Mary, whereas the men go on the side with the large icon of Jesus.

There’s no compelling reason to think that those practices go back 2000 years.  Moreover, among the old believers, the practice is not to sit on separate sides, but to stand on separate sides.  So, if this really were a movement by the Holy Spirit, Jordan should be advocating for standing, not sitting.

But let’s consider his justification for the practice:

This is because in heaven there is neither marrying nor giving in marriage. There is neither male nor female, bond nor free, child nor parent. Hence, ascended worship, taking place seated in the heavenlies, involves an affirmation of God’s Family and a setting aside of the earthly family. 

This justification would make sense if he left out “neither male nor female.”  Once that is included, the rationale for segregating the sexes during worship falls apart.  If there is no male or female, there is no justification for segregation based on that principle.

Jordan also hurls accusation against Vision Forum for advocating the importance of families worshiping together:

Functioning beneath the surface with such groups as Vision Forum and the like is a form of idolatry. We read that the family is the foundation of civilization. That is a fairly ridiculous notion, since the family is a highly temporary social unit. The Bible commands that a child leave his father and mother when he marries (Genesis 2:24). 

 This is another example of Jordan’s arguments not following.  The fact that a family is – to some degree – a temporary social unity does not prevent it from being the foundation of civilization.  The very passage Jordan cites is one in which a member of a family is setting out to create his own family.  That passage only reinforces the role that family plays in this life.

Jordan goes on to claim that Wes White and others are “opposed” to “reformation theology,” which is just one more ridiculous claim, like Jodan’s claim that “the notion that husbands should serve their wives and children the Lord’s Supper” was “a capital offense in the Bible; Exodus 35:2-3; Numbers 16.”

Given all the ridiculous claims in the post (from beginning to end) one may wonder why I would bother responding.  It seems that James Jordan is one of the leaders of the Federal Vision.  If those in the Federal Vision movement consider him one of their leaders, then presumably they will be glad to hear responses to him.


The Wise Turk on Religious Entertainment

June 9, 2009

He’s not really a Turk, but we do sometimes find wisdom (of sorts) from unexpected places. I recently came across the following quotation:

“Wherever applause breaks out in the liturgy because of some human achievement, it is a sure sign that the essence of liturgy has totally disappeared and been replaced by a kind of religious entertainment.” (Joseph Ratzinger, Spirit of the Liturgy, p. 198)

Far be it from me to applaud the most prominent living enemy of the Christian faith, but he’s right about this issue. When there is applause during what purports to be a worship service, it is because something has gone dreadfully awry. Worship of God (and God alone) is why we are in church on the Lord’s Day.

When one begins to admix entertainment into the service, one is losing sight of the focus of worship in two ways. First of all, one is focusing on the performer, rather than on God. Second of all, one is permitting oneself to be honored when the honor should be directed to God.

Worship is edifying and valuable to the worshiper, but it is not about the worshiper. The minister of God and his assistants (whoever they may be) are there to lead you in the worship of God, not to entertain and amuse you.

I am not saying that no joke may ever be told from the pulpit, but when your pastor can rival the local comedy club for the number of laughs and applause per minute from the crowd, something has gone dreadfully wrong.

In general applause is totally inappropriate in worship, as is reverence and honor being paid to anyone besides the Mighty and Jealous God whom you are there to worship. Come, pay homage to God, and hear the proclamation of his Word!

I think I can say without exaggeration that the problem of entertainment in churches is a rival to the problem of feasting instead of communion in the ancient churches. If you want to have a good laugh, go to a comedy club. If you want to hear outstanding musical performances, go to the local concert hall. The point of church is not entertain you – but for you to interact reverentially and solemnly with God.


Directory for Public Worship: a Few Notes

June 8, 2009

Those who know me, know that I find myself most closely aligned with the Scottish Reformed traditions. Thus, you can imagine that I was pleased to find that this Directory for Public Worship (adopted by the Scottish church in 1645) has been placed on-line (link).

Let me suggest a few points from that document that would aid modern churches:

The publick worship being begun, the people are wholly to attend upon it, forbearing to read any thing, except what the minister is then reading or citing; and abstaining much more from all private whisperings, conferences, salutations, or doing reverence to any person present, or coming in; as also from all gazing, sleeping, and other indecent behaviour, which may disturb the minister or people, or hinder themselves or others in the service of God.

AFTER reading of the word, (and singing of the psalm,) the minister who is to preach, is to endeavour to get his own and his hearers hearts to be rightly affected with their sins, that they, may all mourn in sense thereof before the Lord, and hunger and thirst after the grace of God in Jesus Christ, by proceeding to a more full confession of sin, with shame and holy confusion of face, and to call upon the Lord to this effect…

The section on the sermon I will post separately tomorrow, since it could be a mini-course in homiletics.

Times of sickness and affliction are special opportunities put into his hand by God to minister a word in season to weary souls: because then the consciences of men are or should be more awakened to bethink themselves of their spiritual estate for eternity; and Satan also takes advantage then to load them more with sore and heavy temptations: therefore the minister, being sent for, and repairing to the sick, is to apply himself, with all tenderness and love, to administer some spiritual good to his soul, to this effect.

He may, from the consideration of the present sickness, instruct him out of scripture, that diseases come not by chance, or by distempers of body only, but by the wise and orderly guidance of the good hand of God to every particular person smitten by them. And that, whether it be laid upon him out of displeasure for sin, for his correction and amendment, or for trial and exercise of his graces, or for other special and excellent ends, all his sufferings shall turn to his profit, and work together for his good, if he sincerely labour to make a sanctified use of God’s visitation, neither despising his chastening, nor waxing weary of his correction.


Latria/Dulia Debate with GNRHead

January 17, 2009

Mr. Lane Chaplin, who moderated the Latria/Dulia Debate that I had with GNRHead has very kindly hosted it as a full-length video.

In case you would like to follow along by reading the debate, Matthew Lankford has kindly provided a transcript, to which I have made a few minor edits. If anyone sees ways that the transcript can be improved, please let me know.


Lane Chaplin: Welcome to the Latria-Dulia Debate. Our debate today will attempt to answer the following:

Can dulia and proskuneo be used in a Religious context without being worship?

Our debaters today are William Albrecht taking the affirmative position and TurretinFan taking the negative.

William Albrecht is currently a Catholic Apologist and the webmaster of the Catholic Legate apologetics organization. William was raised into a non-religious practicing household and eventually became a Protestant. After much studying and the undertaking of a religious career William converted to the Catholic faith close to seven years ago. His contact information is or

TurretinFan is a Reformed apologist who operates the blog Thoughts of Francis Turretin. His only relevant qualifications is that he is a believer with a Bible. He makes no claims of being anyone particularly important and he debates pseudonymously in hopes of drawing the attention away form himself. His contact information is and he occasionally posts on

My name is Lane Chaplin and I will be moderating this debate. The debate will last about an hour in length and will follow the following format:

There will be a first Affirmative Constructive by Albrecht, which will be seven minutes.
A Cross Ex[amination] of the Affirmative by the Negative position, which is three minutes.
One Negative Constructive by Turretin[Fan] which will be eight minutes.
A Cross Ex[amination] of the Negative by the Affermative, which will be three minutes.
One Affirmative Rebuttal, which will be four minutes.
Negative Rebuttal, which will be seven minutes.
And a Second Affirmative Rebuttal, which will be four [minutes].

We do ask each debater to please refrain from making any comments or audible gestures during the opponents allotted time. This will not only show respect for your opponent during this endeavor, it will also allow for there to be meaningful discussion on both ends of this debate. And, as always, if your favorite debater makes a point you agree with audience please hold your applause until the end of his allotted time (heh).

Now we begin with the first Affirmative Construction by Mister Albrecht. Mister Albrecht you have seven minutes; I’ll begin the clock when you begin.

[≈ 2.40]

William Albrecht: Alright from the get go, I’d like to say God bless both to Lane and to Turretin[Fan] for making this happen. And let’s get down to the issues now.

The contention that I’ve been hearing from my Protestant brethren is that there simply is no Biblical distinction between latria and dulia in the terms of religious context. Well, the fact of the matter is, what I’m asserting is that dulia and latria are two distinct words — used differently at times. Sure dulia is and should always be rendered to God, but it’s also shown as being rendered elsewhere in references that are not directed towards God. Latria is never shown as proper towards anyone other than God — and that is clear. But dulia is different. Of course, it should be rendered to God, of course, its service and we are to obey and serve our God — that is clear. To me, it seems like a silly qualifier to claim that dulia can be given to mankind, but it’s never shown as given to mankind in a religious context. This entails our Protestant brethren to begin to claim that since Catholics do give dulia to the Saints, that it is in a religious manner, this then leads them to say that we offer them worship, since this form of dulia is in the religious form. To me, it seems like a game of words that can be confusing to some that don’t know the real issues. The reason I believe that AOMin. has to set up this task to set up this false interpretation of Biblical words is because it then allows them to say that dulia is, indeed, [a word?] used toward mankind, but never in a religious context. What AOMin. means to say is that dulia is never used toward mankind in a worship context as it is of God in the Old Testament. We would not argue with that, we do not contend, that we give the religious dulia to Mary — that amounts to worship — or to any Saint for that matter. These word games could confuse some, but once examined they seem anything but serious. They are silly little word games that attempt to confuse the mind of the individual. It is also contended that proskuneo, when used in a religious context, is always worship. Therefore, according to AOMin. this all amounts to Catholics worshiping Mary and the other Saints. We’ll examine a bit more to see how these claims simply do not hold water. Upon the examination of the Friberg Lexicon, the the Barclay-Newman Greek Dictionary, [inaudible] Liddell and Scott Greek Lexicon, and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon we see that dulia can be given to mankind and never do we have the qualifier that AOMin. has seemingly adopted from John Calvin. Moving forward, the one Lexicon that Mister White of AOMin. did bring up, the BDA&G, to support his position of not mentioning a distinction, surely does. In fact the BDA&G tells us that dulia is used in many aspects of the Christian life including aspects that are tied in with the religious. Moving forward, the Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church defines latria as such:

“As contrasted with dulia, that fullness of Divine worship which may be paid to God alone.”

A Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott tells us “The veneration of the Saints is called absolute dulia. The Council of Trent declared in connection with the veneration of Saints, that through images we honor the Saints which they represent.”

[this section could be continued as part of the quote] As regards to invocation of the Saints, the council declared:

[this section could be continued as part of the quote too] “It is good and profitable to appeal to help from them.”

This can be found on page three hundred and nineteen of Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma from Ott.

The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia defines dulia as such:

“[…]a theological term signifying the honour paid to the saints, while latria means worship given to God alone[…]” [link:

Then we move on and we’ve got The New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia which tells us of latria [link: that it is worship called forth by God and given exclusively to Him as God, which is designated by the Greek term latreuo.

So, everywhere you turn you see the clear distinction to the two terms and never the qualifier that we see certain Protestant individuals injecting. And in order to pretty much lay the ground work I’ve mentioned a couple of lexicons, Greek dictionaries, and I’ve also defined the terms as put forth by the Catholic encyclopedias.

Okay, that will be it for my opening statement.

[≈ 6:55]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, Turretin[Fan] you have three minutes for cross-examining William.

TurretinFan: Mister Albrecht, do you see any Biblical passage in which latria and dulia are distinguished?

William Albrecht: In which latria and dulia are distinguished? Absolutely. Are you asking me passages in which they both appear?

TurretinFan: No, I guess what I’m asking is this: Is there some passage out there where Scripture says it’s okay to give latria to God, but it’s not okay to give latria to men?

William Albrecht: Are you referring to the fact that… I’m not quite understanding… Are you trying to ask me to approach this from a theological perspective? Or do you want me to pull out a Biblical passage, which uses both terms and distinguishes between them? I don’t quite understand the question.

TurretinFan: Well, the question, I guess, is getting to whether or not the theological position that your advocating is a theological position derived from Scripture. My contention is that it is not… But I’d like to know if you believe there is some Scripture passage, which, in effect, says it’s okay to give dulia to men.

William Albrecht: Oh, okay. I understand it a little bit clearer now. Absolutely. I believe that you are of the persuasion… You do believe it is alright to give dulia to man, right? You just don’t believe it is right to give dulia in the form of a religious context. Am I correct?

TurretinFan: Well, yes, of course, I’m not saying that it’s improper for servants to give service to their masters. What I’m… What I’m asking for is somewhere where the Bibles making the theological distinction that your making.

William Albrecht: You mean that dulia can be… can be used toward mankind in a religious context? Would you like me to show you an example?

TurretinFan: Sure, yeah, please provide an example.

William Albrecht: Well, it’s not my cross-examination and I can’t ask you a question. I’ll simply (pose/post) Galatians, chapter five, verses thirteen to fourteen [Galatians 5:13-14] and I will assert that the Greek term douleuo is used in a religious context in this verse and it is indeed used toward mankind.

TurretinFan: In Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen [Galatians 5:13-14], the verse states:

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.”

Are you suggesting that this says we can serve one another in this lifetime using douleuo?

William Albrecht: Absolutely.

[≈ 10:00]

Lane Chaplin: Ok, that’s the end of the first cross examination. Now we’ll have a negative construct by Turretin[Fan], which consists of eight minutes.

[≈ 10:14]

TurretinFan: The debate today is about whether the distinction that modern Catholicism presents between latria and dulia is Biblical or medieval in origin. Where does it come from? I would respectfully submit to you that it is not Biblical. It is a philosophical innovation designed to defend a pagan practice that was introduced into churches [?] after the time of the Apostles.

What I’ll do in this speech is:
First, state the position of the Vatican.
Second, contrast that with the Biblical position.
And third, answer Mister Albrecht’s arguments.

Catholicism’s Position Stated

Although Mister Albrecht provided some definitions of Rome’s position [?], allow me to provide what I think is a little clearer explanation. Rome’s position is well summarized by philosopher, theologian, Thomas Aquinas, who wrote:

“Since “latria” is due to God alone, it is not due to a creature so far as we venerate a creature for its own sake. For though insensible creatures are not capable of being venerated for their own sake, yet the rational creature is capable of being venerated for its own sake. Consequently the worship of “latria” is not due to any mere rational creature for its own sake. Since, therefore, the Blessed Virgin is a mere rational creature, the worship of “latria” is not due to her, but only that of “dulia”: but in a higher degree than to other creatures, inasmuch as she is the Mother of God. For this reason we say that not any kind of “dulia” is due to her, but “hyperdulia.””

This quotation provides the framework: “Latria” which is for God alone. “Hyper-dulia” which is for Mary alone. And “dulia” which is for the Saints. Of course, dulia can also be offered to God, but for the purposes of this discussion, we’re focusing on the fact that it is offered to the Saints.

In English this distinction is sometimes expressed in the difference between worship or adoration and veneration. Adoration and worship corresponding to latria and veneration corresponding to dulia. Moving on to the second point.

The Biblical Testimony

This threefold framework is not taught in Scripture. Scripture generally teaches that all religious adoration and veneration is due to God alone. Thus, we, Reformed Christians, do not religiously venerate one another or anyone but God alone. Both the Old and New Testaments agree. Deuteronomy five (Deuteronomy 5) states:

“Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me, And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.”

Someone might point out that the word “alone” is not in the text. Fair enough. Scripture also gets more specific and more clear. Matthew four (Matthew 4) states:

“Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”

The same account may be found in Luke’s Gospel. But this was not new to the New Testament.
Christ is referencing the Bible to establish this doctrinal position — that only God should receive religious adoration or veneration. Notice that Jesus doesn’t rely on his own authority in rebuking Satan, but says “for it is written[…]” These same themes can be seen in the Old Testament.
First, first Samuel states, in chapter seven (1 Samuel 7):

“And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the LORD, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Scripture provides no exceptions for men to adore or venerate religiously someone or something other than God with a lesser form of religious adoration.

Having seen these two positions let us, in the third place, examine Mister Albrecht’s case.
Mister Albrecht argues that latria and dulia are two different words. Well, not of course the Latin words, but the corresponding Greek words. We agree. We agree that they are different words. Latria is generally used of worship. And dulia can refer not only to worship, but also to a very high degree of service, such as slavery. The question is not whether the Greek words have different definitions in the Greek lexicons, but whether Scripture provides a basis for Rome’s claims. It does not. Mister Albrecht also makes reference to [BDA&G] lexicon in support of his position, but again that lexicon and the other lexicons that were mentioned don’t state that the latria-dulia distinction — the philosophical distinction– the question we’re arguing about — is inherent in the Greek. And, in fact, it isn’t inherent in the Greek, as noted above, it’s a medieval innovation — this drawing a distinction between latria and dulia, as far as dulia being acceptable form of veneration for humans is something that didn’t exist in Biblical times — it’s not a classical Greek concept that imported it in. Instead, it’s a philosophical device to justify what’s been done.

Additionally, during cross examination, Mister Albrecht cited to Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen (Galatians 5:13-14) Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen (Galatians 5:13-14) states,

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

Now, seeing in context what’s stated there we can see the fulfillment of Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen, has nothing at all to do with the idea of kneeling down before icons or statues, lighting incense and candles; it has to do with showing practical love to the brethren. It has… An example would be the Good Samaritan, he’s someone who loved his neighbor. This is the kind of thing [?] Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen talks about. It’s not talking about the religious context of dulia that’s used in the Vatican’s theology. Consequently Galatians five, thirteen to fourteen, can’t provide support for the distinction that’s been presented. Accordingly, we are left with the, just the, Scriptural position, already stated, which is ‘that we can serve God only’. Religious veneration, religious adoration, these things are for God only.

[≈ 18:00]

TurretinFan: And when we give them to anyone except for God we are in violation of the word of God and therefore in sin.

I’m not ready for cross examination.

Lane Chaplin: Okay, thank you for that Turretin[Fan] we will now have a cross examination with Mister Albrecht cross examining TurretinFan. You have three minutes you may begin when you are ready.

William Albrecht: Okay. My contention is that latria and dulia are two distinct words. I’m aware that you also agree with such, but you place a qualifier that dulia can never be used in a religious context towards mankind. Now, as such is the case,can you please explain to me why Galatians chapter five, verses thirteen or [?] fourteen, tells us to serve one another in love (using the the second person, plural form of douleuo). I believe love being the chief religious context of the whole New Testament; and this simply doesn’t get more religious than this, Tur, being used in a religious context.

TurretinFan: Well, yes, I think the answer is that the ‘loving our neighbor as our self’ is fulfillment of the second table of the Law. And the example I gave in my last speech about the Good Samaritan with the example how someone could serve another person without it being in a religious context. Of course, if you make all of life, which should all be about obedience, if we should make all of life a religious context, means that the word ‘religious’ has lost its sense.

William Albrecht: I would agree with you, but it’s clearly being used in a religious context in Galatians five verse thirteen, fourteen, at least that is what I would contend. I would… I would like to ask you another question. Your contention is also is that the word proskuneo cannot be used in a religious context towards mankind, because each time it is worship. Is that your contention?

TurretinFan: Well, with my contention with regard to proskuneo is that Jesus Himself said that we should only serve God, so that’s the basis for my contention.

William Albrecht: So you would…

TurretinFan: But

William Albrecht: Ok, excuse me, excuse me…

TurretinFan: But, yes, I do understand the word, that word has a broad semantic range. So, for example it can mean to stoop, or to duck down, and to bow before someone. So you see some people bowing before kings, for example. And in Acts seven, seven (Acts 7:7), with which you’re familiar, you see someone bowing before a centurion, to provide another example. It’s possible for people to do this without it being involved in a religious context.

William Albrecht: Okay, well, how would you interpret one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty [1 Chronicles 29:20)]? Which reads:

“[…]they bowed low and fell prostrate before the LORD and the king.”

Is not the third person form of proskuneo used here?

And would you contend that that is not in a religious context?

TurretinFan: Well, there were a lot of “not”s in there, but the word proskuneo is used, the appropriate form of the word, as you described. But the, the question, the interesting thing, is that it is used equally of God and of the King. So, the first question I would want to know is whether God and the king there are two different people or if God is being described both as the LORD and as the King.

[≈ 21:30]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, this ends our second cross examination session. Mr. Albrecht you’ll now have a four minute affirmative rebuttal. You may begin when you are ready.

[≈ 21:45]

William Albrecht: Alright, I think what we find here is, we find TurretinFan’s, as well as anybody else who uses the arguments, in a bit of a bind here, because they’ve got to try to read away the plain meaning of Scripture. I’ve used Galatians chapter five verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] which uses douleuo in a religious context. It shows us that we can serve one another in love; love being the chief religious context of the whole New Testament. It simply doesn’t get any more religious than this. I would imagine love to be the most important Biblical concept of the Bible. We read in Matthew chapter twenty-two, verses thirty-six to forty [Matthew 22:36-40], that love is what encompasses the greatest commandments. And in Romans thirteen, nine to ten, [Romans 13:9-10], love is the fulfillment of the whole Law. So, it is a theme that cannot be escaped. It doesn’t get any more religious than this. Even Galatians chapter five, verse six, [Galatians 5:6] tells us that the only thing that matters is faith working through love.

Moving on, I then posed one Chronicles chapter twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] to TurretinFan, which, indeed, does use proskuneo here in a religious context. And what is most interesting about this passage is the clear evidence that the whole assembly falls to bow and worship God, but they also bow in (reverence/reference?) to the king. I’m not sure if TurretinFan actually read the passage, I’m sure he’s read it before, he probably, maybe, didn’t read it at this moment, because he erroneously, I don’t know if he asserted or was questioning, whether the bowing down and the proskuneo was given to the LORD and the LORD was the King as well. Well, the fact of the matter is, the direct reading is in reference to the LORD and to the king. Therefore the proskuneo that is used here is used in a religious context towards a man.

Moving fourth I would simply disagree with lexicons and dictionaries that Turretin[Fan] basically asserts that they do not use the distinction that I am speaking of and I would suggest that he read those lexicons and dictionaries again, because they do speak (on/of/about) all of the different usages. So, I would disagree with him there and I would suggest that he read those that I had mentioned.

Turretin[Fan] also argues ‘this distinction which I have shown is not Biblical, because of the fact that Catholics kneel before statues and light incense and candles’ — it is simply a caricature of the Catholic position to basically say that we have reduced all of these terms and the meanings to this kneeling down and lighting incense and candles — it’s simply much more than that. And those words that he said were nearly exactly the words that I’ve heard from other people use. It’s an argument that’s used over and over. The simple fact of the matter is douleuo is used in a religious context toward mankind and proskuneo is used in a religious context toward mankind as well. This is Biblical it can be shown in the Greek. And I, I believe if Turretin[Fan] cannot find a way to answer Galatians chapter five, verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] away, or one Chronicles chapter twenty-nine, verse twenty, he is in a bit of a bind. There are, indeed, more passages that do use these terms and I believe that I can find more passages that use these terms in a religious context, but I’m particularly, I’m holding myself to use these terms at this moment. And I think if he can’t… I truly believe Galatians chapter five, verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] is a clear religious context. Therefore, I believe the definitions the Catholic church gives these two terms are, indeed, Biblical and I believe they are sound with the Christian faith.

[≈ 25:15]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, thank you Mister Albrecht. TurretinFan you now have seven minutes for a rebuttal.

[≈ 25.22]

[≈ 25.26]

TurretinFan: Alright, I will now try to sum up this debate and explain why I continue to believe that religious adoration and religious veneration should be given to God only. Albrecht keeps seeming to try to push the burden on me to prove that Scriptural point, which I’ve already made, that as Jesus has said that we should serve and worship God only. He seems to be pushing it back on me to show that there isn’t a distinction. Of course, my position here is the negative; he is the affirmative and the initial burden of proof for the case, for this distinction, is on him. If he wants to use Scripture to prove his point — and he relied on a few Scriptural verses in his last speech — then its on him to show that those verses that he’s relying on actually demonstrate the point he’s trying to make.

Let’s address the contentions he made. First, the contention from Galatians. He states: ‘It doesn’t get any more’ … ‘that something doesn’t get any more religious than love’. And that’s interesting, but love should mark our whole life. I don’t think Mister Albrecht disagrees. And, in fact, because love if the fulfillment of the Law, and our whole live must be a life of obedience to God, this would mean that our whole life was a religious context, and in short, the qualification that its a religious context is simply a meaningless qualification. But if Mister Albrecht is saying that, then it becomes clear why he doesn’t see the Reformed position yet. The Reformed position is that the religious context has to do with, you know, things like church. It’s maybe a little hard to put our fingers on it, if someones trying to tell us our whole life is a religious context, but I think that Mister Albrecht sees the difference between what he does in church and what he does at his work — (or) at his office. In any event, we can move on from that, because his contention has just been very general. There’s nothing in Galatians, the verse that he cited, that set out dulia in a religious context; it just sets it out in the context of life.

Moving on to the first Chronicles (1 Chronicles) passage. Mister Albrecht had cited first Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20], but this verse doesn’t help him much. Why not? Because, for one thing, there’s no distinction made between latria and dulia there. It’s not as though they give latria to God and dulia to the king. Even worse, for Mister Albrecht’s position, the verse just reports that the people did this — it doesn’t condemn it — it doesn’t condone it — it just reports it. So, even assuming that the verse said that the — that king David was the king here — that was being referenced — and that they did bow down to king David, they did exactly the same thing they did to king David as they did to the LORD, which wouldn’t support the idea of a distinction at all. It would simply point out that they were doing the same thing to both. The, of course, it is possible the people recognized the distinction and that the people were doing one thing to the king and another thing to God. It’s very interesting that the Greek here uses a construction such that both the LORD and the king can be the same person; there’s an article used before the LORD and there’s and article used before the king, but it doesn’t specify king David and it doesn’t force it to be a reference to king David, so there’s some ambiguity there — it’s not a black and white case. Look, this same construction using an article before both is, is found in John twenty, twenty-eight [John 20:28] where Thomas, where Thomas answers and says ‘My LORD and my God’ — in that case, there’s… it’s not expressed in English, but the article is there before both “LORD” and “God.” And so, although, of course, Thomas is talking about just one person. So, the fact that the word “and” is used there isn’t inclusive. What’s very interesting is the Vulgate — of course, the Vulgate takes the position that they are two different people — but the Vulgate adds in a word and (says/said) ‘they bowed to God and then to the king’ which suggests they were engaging in two different activities. But, nevertheless, as I already mentioned in my cross examination, bowing down before a king is one kind of respect that we can show that’s different from respect in a religious context. It’s unclear how Mister Albrecht believes that this religious context is applied to king David. As far as I know, there isn’t any teaching in Aquinas that we are to give religious dulia to living, or excuse me, to non-glorified human beings. In fact, it’s sort of unclear to me why either Galatians or first Chronicles [1 Chronicles] is being cited as an example of why would we, why we would give dulia to Mary or the Saints, because, of course, these are both examples of what were [?] being given to living people — people in this life — before they’re glorified. David, in fact, is a sinful man and God wouldn’t allow David to build the temple, but, apparently, if we understood the argument that’s made from first Chronicles verse twenty-nine, twenty [1 Chronicles 29:20] — it’s being suggested that religious dulia is appropriate for such a sinful man. This doesn’t seem to be fully consistent with the doctrines of Catholicism. It leaves me somewhat confused, but the bottom line is this: we haven’t seen from Scripture a distinction where Scripture approves, or condones, the religious veneration of departed believers. It doesn’t approve, or condone, the religious veneration of Mary. In fact, it doesn’t provide even one example, in the whole of Scripture, of anyone giving religious veneration to Mary. It doesn’t give even one example in all of Scripture of religious veneration being given to the Saints — once they’re departed from this life. Even if we would grant that Galatians permits religious veneration in this life, which is, which is not [inaudible] something [inaudible] say that all of our life, or to say that love is very important and it doesn’t get an more religious than love, then we’ve shown that love is a requirement for all of our life. But, in any event, based on these illustrations from the verses that have been cited, I would respectfully submit that no case for a distinction between latria and dulia, in a religious context, has been established.

[≈ 32:37]

Lane Chaplin: Okay, thank you TurretinFan. Mister Albrecht you’ll have the last rebuttal session and this will be four minutes you may begin when you’re ready.

[≈ 32:47]

[≈ 32:49]

William Albrecht: Alright. In conclusion, we find that the Catholic claims are once again vindicated by Scripture. I wish we would have been able to delve into the early church, where I believe the Catholic ever so powerful also. But it was important that we were able to stick mainly to the Scriptures. We see that latria and dulia are two distinct words. What we also see that the usage of dulia in a religious context does not equal that of worship. The cold hard facts are there. The Bible distinguishes between latria and between dulia. Dulia can and is and always should be used in a worship context when referring to God. Latria, no doubt, is to be directed to God and to God alone. But dulia is also shown to be proper [?] towards mankind. Even if one sets up the false parameters of a religious context — dulia is still offered to men. The same can be said of proskuneo as well. And to briefly touch upon something I, some comments that Turretin[Fan] made — he says that Jesus does say that we should serve and worship God only. And that is also the Catholic position, which I have already shown in the Bible. Douleuo in Galatians chapter five, verse thirteen to fourteen, [Galatians 5:13-14] is used toward mankind — it is in a religious context. And as far as me not understanding the Reformed position as Turretin[Fan] claims, I’d rather stick to the Biblical position, which is as I have already shown several times proskuneo and dulia are used toward mankind in a religious context. In one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] TurretinFan briefly attempted to deal with it. He… He said this was intended — that this did not deal with latria and dulia. Well, I was specifically dealing with the Greek term proskuneo, which is used in the Septuagint rendering of one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] and I, indeed, showed how this term is used in a religious context. I would contend that Turretin[Fan] is incorrect about the Greek being clear — clearly referencing somebody else; I think that the whole context is clear that this is in reference to the king. The passage in… [?] the passage is also mentioned in the Matthew Henry commentary — pointed out that this is in reference to the God and to the king — and the Matthew Henry commentary is far from a Catholic commentary. And I believe the passage that [?] TurretinFan brought up in John chapter twenty, verse twenty-eight, [John 20:28] where Thomas calls Christ his LORD and his God — in the Greek we literally read and we are able to tell that he is calling Him his LORD and his God — the LORD of him and the God of him. The Greek construct is completely different as I, I just looked at it right now — and the passage in John is clear that this is in reference to Christ being his LORD and his God. Therefore, Turretin[fan] has shown that in order to try and answer away a religious context, as I have shown, he must try and answer away a passage or try to claim the passage has some ambiguity. But I believe clearly that one Chronicles twenty-nine, twenty, [1 Chronicles 29:20] is in clear reference to a religious context given to, to mankind as well. Someone would not be able to contend that proskuneo is never offered to anyone in a religious context. We would agree that proskuneo is never given to mankind in a worship sense — ever — it is not acceptable. But to claim that all religious context in the Bible deal with worship is simply plain silly. This is a religious context and the people are not worshiping the king in any sense whatsoever. They bow down before God and offer respect to the king. To me, it doesn’t get any more of a religious context than this — context-wise of course. So, it’s important to understand the way a Catholic worships God and God alone and gives honor and respect to the Saints. No Saint usurps the role of God in the Catholic faith. And I believe this debate is very important, because it, if anything helps us understand our positions in a clearer fashion. And [?] any debate is profitable. And I would like to end by saying God bless and I really appreciate this debate and I think its been very helpful.

[≈ 36:38]

[≈ 36:40]

Lane Chaplin: Thank you for that Mister Albrecht. This now concludes the Latria-Dulia debate with Mister William Albrecht and TurretinFan of Thank you Mister Albrecht and TurretinFan for taking the time to debate the issues today. My name is Lane Chaplin, thank you for listening.

[end @ 37:08]


Thanks very much to Lane and Matthew for their assistance, and to Mr. Albrecht for debating this important issue.

Enjoy! And may God be glorified!


Latria/Dulia Debate – Update

November 21, 2008

So, the debate is a go. The resolution is as shown below:

Resolved: That Dulia and Proskuneo can be used in a Religious context without being worship.

Since Albrecht is Affirmative, he has the burden of proof and consequently gets to speak first and last. The time limits will be as follows:

1AC (first Affirmative Constructive) – 7 minutes
Cross Ex of the Aff by the Neg – 3 minutes
1NC (first Negative Constructive) – 8 minutes
Cross Ex of the Neg by the Aff – 3 minutes
1AR (first Affirmative Rebuttal) – 4 minutes
NR (Negative Rebuttal) – 7 minutes
2AR (second Affirmative Rebuttal) – 4 minutes

Plus four minutes of “prep-time” per side that can be used after cross-examination or before any rebuttal.

Please pray that God would use the debate for the edification of many,


Some Lightly Shredded Albrecht

November 18, 2008

Mr. William Albrecht (aka GNRHead) is an apologist promoted and endorsed by Steve Ray (a lay apologist and pilgrimage tour guide who frequently appears on the “Catholic Answers” radio program). By way of background, I should point out that I am not usually this harsh in my criticism of Internet videos. I recognize that a lot of folks slap such videos together in a hurry. So, before presenting this critique, I made sure that Albrecht was aware that this was coming, and offered him the chance to withdraw or clean up his video in advance.

Naturally, he refused. I didn’t expect otherwise. I encourage everyone, before they read this article to listen to the November 4, 2008, edition of the Dividing Line (link). Mr. Albrecht called into the show and discussion ensued between him and Dr. White.

With that background, I proceed to address a video by Albrecht. I’ve provided a full transcript in seven segments from the following video source (source). Albrecht doesn’t have the clearest enunciation of his words, so in some places I have been forced to make an educated guess as to what he was trying to say. Also, I have tried to eliminate unintentional stutters and/or filler (“umm” etc.) in the interest of simply providing what Albrecht was trying to say.

For those unwilling to read the entire 5,000 word article, here is the summary. The video was long on rhetoric short on substance. The few matters of substance raised are easily dismantled, because Albrecht’s methodology is (apparently) to simply insult and denigrate those who disagree with him, rather to present a cogent and coherent argument. Finally, a lie on Albrecht’s part with respect to the historical facts of the Dividing Line (DL) is exposed.

Segment 1

Albrecht said:

Alright, alright, alright, well, well, well, anyone that saw the Dividing Line, I must say I doubt you are surprised. Before the Dividing Line show in which I appeared, I predicted just what would occur: Mr. White would sidestep the question, delve into other topics, and mute me, and even hang up on me, which of course, he did do.

Rhetorical Critique:

This was something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. What Albrecht fails to point out is that what he means by Dr. White “sidestep[ping] the question,” is answering the questions Albrecht posed in any other way than that which Albrecht wanted. What Albrecht fails to point out is that Dr. White “delve[d] into other topics,” because Albrecht raised other topics. What Albrecht fails to point out is that Dr. White muted him because he was trying to interrupt and talk over Dr. White. What Albrecht fails to point out is that Dr. White accidentally hung up on him at the very end of the show. Albrecht had the opportunity to talk with Dr. White from around 18 minutes into the show, to the accidental disconnection in the 58th minute (around 57:19 or so) of the show. Unfortunately, a transcription like the one above doesn’t capture the tone of the video, but it should become more evident in further segments.

Mr. Albrecht’s comment regarding “anyone that saw the Dividing Line,” is – of course – a bit odd, since the Dividing Line was presented in audio only. Perhaps Mr. Albrecht is simply not precise at expressing himself.

Substantive Critique:

Well there isn’t any substance in this segment, so it is not really possible to provide a substantive critique. It’s all rhetoric. Once Albrecht gets into the substance, the substantive critique sections will be more meaty.

Segment 2

Albrecht said:

Unfortunately for James, he refuted himself. He admitted to logical (of course) and biblical distinction between latria and dulia, but his cop-out was, “Oh, oh, but there’s no distinction with reference to religious usage.” Of course, this make no sense, because, as I attempted to point out many times over, we don’t give dulia in a religious worship usage to any saint. I tried to hammer this point home to James, but he only yelled and yelled and yelled and muted me. I think it particular bothered James that Acts 7:7 was a prime example that his position is completely superfluous. After acknowledging the two distinct words, James simply says this cannot be a viable usage, because dulia is not a religious context.

Rhetorical Critique:

Notice how Albrecht starts by claiming victory. He starts by saying that Dr. White refuted himself. Of course, Albrecht does not refer to him as Dr. White, but instead as “James.” It is interesting to recall (you did listen to the DL as I requested, didn’t you?) how hot under the collar Albrecht got when Dr. White pointed out to him that Albrecht had refuted himself (around 25:30). The difference is that Dr. White first demonstrated that Albrecht refuted himself, he did not simply claim it.

In fact, even after Albrecht claims that Dr. White refuted himself, he does not back it up. Albrecht seems to think that the fact that latria and dulia are two different words that are often used in different ways is an important point (more on that in the substantive section below). However, Albrecht refuses to consider Dr. White’s clarification, calling it a “cop-out.” A cop-out, however, is not a self-refutation. Even if it were a cop-out, which it is not, it would not be a self-refutation.

Furthermore, in addition to calling it a cop-out, Albrecht claims it makes no sense. His explanation for why it supposedly makes no sense is to change the subject (see Segment 1, Rhetorical Critique, above) to what he thinks is the application of the issue to his religion. Of course, even if the point made no sense (although in fact it did make sense), it would not be a self-refutation.

Albrecht claims that he tried to hammer his point home to Dr. White, but that Dr. White yelled and muted him. Albrecht, however, forgets to inform the reader that he tried to hammer this point home while Dr. White was talking. That is to say, Albrecht attempted to interrupt Dr. White, forcing Dr. White first to talk a bit louder – and then when it was clear that Albrecht wasn’t taking the hint to wait his turn, eventually mute Albrecht so as to be able to return to a more normal level of volume. “Yell,” of course, is an exaggeration, but it is true that Dr. White tried to help clue Albrecht into the fact that Dr. White was still talking, by raising his voice.

Albrecht’s comment regarding why Acts 7:7 would bother Dr. White is a bit odd too. As the reader has probably noticed, “superfluous” is just not the word Albrecht is looking for. Something superfluous is something extra. A position cannot really be superfluous, so it becomes clear that Albrecht simply let the four-syllable word get away from him. Advice to Albrecht: make sure you know what the word means, before you use it.

It’s a bit like his attempt to characterize Dr. White’s position in the very next sentence. Albrecht claims that Dr. White’s position is that “this cannot be a viable usage, because dulia is not a religious context.” In fact, however, Dr. White’s point was that the use of a form of dulia in Acts 7:7 was dulia in a non-religious context. Thus, it is not a relevant usage.

Substantive Critique:

Substantively there is not a lot here. Albrecht’s basic point is and was that there is a difference between the words latria and dulia. As Albrecht noted we agree that those are two different words.

Nevertheless, in a religious context, Albrecht is unable to substantiate any relevant difference. In a religious context, both latria and dulia are (in the Bible) inappropriate for things that are not God. In a religious context, both are encompassed by the broad term προσκυνέω (proskuneo). Proskuneo in a religious context, giving religious reverence, is only for God. The idea that mere religious dulia (or religious hyper-dulia) is acceptable while only latria is forbidden is simply without Biblical foundation.

Albrecht either mistakes his own church’s position or is throwing up a red herring when he states, “we don’t give dulia in a religious worship usage to any saint.” Catholicism does admit to giving dulia in a religious context to the saints, and “hyper-dulia” to Mary. It is in the context of religious worship, although it is claimed that God receives the worship (see more discussion on that below, where Albrecht claims that the reverence goes directly to God). If Albrecht is attempting to point out that today this dulia is not labeled “worship,” he is providing a red herring with such a statement – or simply begging the question. After all, the issue is whether dulia in a religious context is to be considered worship biblically, not whether Catholicism acknowledges the Bible’s teaching on the point.

Acts 7:7 doesn’t help Albrecht. The dulia mentioned there is not in a religious context, as Dr. White pointed out during the DL. Accordingly, the idea that dulia of someone other than God is permitted in a non-religious context is an irrelevant point. We acknowledge that dulia can be rendered to the creation outside the religious context. We insist that all religious proskuneo, whether latria or dulia, is improper if directed to anyone but God.

Segment 3

Albrecht said:

Of course, when I then asked James to give me one lexicon in support of his thesis, he couldn’t even give me one. Instead he named the Bauer, Danker, Arndt & Gingrich but he didn’t even say that that gives the distinction. Notice his little verbage that he comes up with, “Oh, it doesn’t even deal with it!” Well James, the reason I asked you that pointed [?] question in the Greek lexicons, is because, on my laptop [pointing to a laptop over his left shoulder] right back there you can see, well James, I’ve got all of the standard lexicons popped right up onto my screen. Any type of Biblical software that exists, James, I run it, James. The software that you use, I use. Any kind of software that you’ve ever used, I’ve got every single version, James. The reason being, is because, you know, I realize you love to use lexicons, you love to bring up the Greek, and I would agree the Greek is quite important, but when you do what you do, you know, the gymnastics you do on the Greek language, it’s almost laughable. There isn’t a single scholar, or a single professor of Greek, that would say there is no biblical distinction between latria and dulia as you do. It’s quite laughable, James. Coming from somebody who claims to know Greek so well, it’s almost a joke. It really is.

Rhetorical Critique:

It’s a little hard to believe that Albrecht has literally every Greek software package and every version thereof ever made. I suppose with enough funds one could accomplish such a thing, but I’m not sure why one would go beyond buying the most recent versions of the most popular and/or most high quality materials.

Obviously there is also a fair bit of mocking in this segment – but it is hard to make sense of the rambling monologue here. While Abrecht concedes that the Greek is important, and has apparently invested (or had invested for him) a considerable sum of money in obtaining every software package ever made, he accuses Dr. White of “gymnastics” and suggests that Dr. White’s claims to know Greek are not founded. On the other hand, no evidence of Greek gymnastics is presented, and Dr. White’s credentials with respect to Greek are readily open to serious question – particularly in view of Albrecht’s admission on the DL that Dr. White knows Greek much better than he does.

Additionally, although Albrecht makes the “couldn’t give me a single one” claim, Dr. White did in fact identify lexical support for Dr. White’s position. As a final rhetorical note, although Albrecht uses the term “verbage” he probably should have used the term “verbiage” in this particular context, though certainly “verbage” would be the more pejorative expression. Verbage usually refers to unnecessary wordiness, as opposed to verbiage, which can refer simply to a manner of expressing oneself in words.

Substantive Critique:

As noted above, we agree that latria and dulia are two different words. Dr. White’s failure to bring up a Greek lexicon against his own position is simply a matter of internal consistency. Although Albrecht tries to re-characterize Dr. White’s position, Dr. White’s position remains that attempting to justify “dulia” as opposed “latria” of the saints (two forms of proskuneo of the saints) is without Biblical warrant. Pointing out that the two words have different semantic ranges, while certainly of lexical interest, is not relevant to the discussion, without some further argumentation: argumentation that Albrecht is either unable or unwilling to provide.

Segment 4

Albrecht said:

There is only one person who would agree with you. That is correct, only one. Not even Luther. Not even Zwingli. Not even Wycliffe or Huss. Or Augustine or Jerome or anyone – only John Calvin, the creator of your religion. The same person who rejected the early Christian writings because of their Catholicity, claiming them to be spurious. Something not even you would do, James. James was wise in avoiding that question, very wise. Even wiser in sidestepping whether an early father was devoted to Mary viewed their devotion as latria. Very, very, very intelligent, James. Putting me on mute and being able to try to slam down on me. Too bad everybody heard the show, James, whether you put me on mute or not, everybody heard. The sinking of the ship of Protestant beliefs was on show for the world.

Rhetorical Critique:

Albrecht lets drama get the better of him here. His outrageous claims regarding the teachings not only of the church fathers but also some of the Reformers and proto-Reformers is a bit absurd. Likewise, his claim that Calvin is the “only one person” that would agree with Dr. White is just silly.

It is interesting to note that the issue of “whether an early father was devoted to Mary” is an issue that was not the main issue under discussion. Recall how Albrecht previously complained that Dr. White would turn his attention to other issues. Here he complains that Dr. White did not follow him down a rabbit trail. The double-standard is glaring.

It’s also interesting to see that Albrecht thinks that the issue of whether some father or other held some non-Reformed position is the sinking of the Protestant ship. Perhaps Albrecht is simply unaware that the Reformed position just lets the fathers be the fathers. The Reformed position recognizes that men err, and leaves room for error even in the most renowned of church fathers.

The “even you” jab is an interesting tactic. It is apparent that Albrecht views Dr. White as radically reformed, but not quite as radically reformed as Calvin. Since he views this “reformed” characteristic as something bad and stupid, he naturally doesn’t think twice before making a comment in which the implication is “even you [stupid as you are] wouldn’t say that.” This is ironically reinforced by Albrecht’s mocking “wise, very wise” remarks.

Calling Calvin the “creator of your religion” is obviously intended as an insult, but is simply so far from the truth, that only Albrecht’s most diehard supporters would find it compelling. In fact, I expect that most readers would see through this comment with great ease. Of course, the “creator” of our religion is God himself, who through Moses, the prophets, and the apostles provided us with the Word of God by which we know how to worship and serve him and him only.

Substantive Critique:

There is not much here of substance on the topic. Essentially the argument appears to be that the view that “dulia of the saints is bad” originated with Calvin. This claim is false.

To take but one example, the Waldensians of the 15th century were recorded by the papists as not giving honor to the saints, working on saints’ days, not revering the statues or images of saints, and not praying to them. Indeed, Claude de Seyssel (who wrote a work against the Waldensians) identified this issue as their ninth error. Claude died in 1520, when Calvin was only about eleven years old. Consequently, one can reasonably suppose that however late the Waldensians may have come to reject the practices designated “dulia” – they certainly held that view before Calvin did.

We could also add that Calvin did not “reject[] the early Christian writings because of their Catholicity, claiming them to be spurious.” In fact there are two confused concepts in this criticism. Calvin probably did (and rightly so) question the authenticity of some of the alleged writings of the early Christians. One has only to look to obvious forgeries that Rome has relied upon, such as the Isodorian decretals and the Donation of Constantine, to recognize that the Roman see is not above forging documents of great importance. We actually see the same thing today with Romanists citing questionable sources in support of their positions (example 1, example 2). In fact, we even see this problem in the works of leading Romanists, such as Cardinal Lambruschini (link to discussion).

With respect to the alleged “Catholicity” of the early Christian writers, but – as Calvin said:

Honor to the Holy Church Fathers: he among us who does not know them better than you, let him beware lest he mention their names. Too bad that you are not more thoroughly read in them, otherwise certain references could be of benefit to you.

It is too bad that Albrecht is so unfamiliar both with Calvin’s teaching as well as with the teaching of the church fathers.

Segment 5

Albrecht said:

Let me move on to White. He tried to argue about the assumption of Mary, then the deutero-canonical books, then Sola Scriptura. It is clear James was lost on his dulia/latria argument from the fact that bowing to a statue at the time of Moses was different than bowing to a statue of Mary. James yelled, “How? How? How?” so loud that my brand new iPhone headphones nearly busted. He yelled so loud that I really didn’t want to laugh at him, to be rude, but he was – phew – I mean I don’t know if he was joking or he was really yelling because he was upset, but I couldn’t help but laugh, I mean he went almost nuts. I mean, come on, James. I don’t need to explain to you, we honor Mary, not a statue. The honor the Israelites were giving to their statues was the honor due to a god, because that was their god. They were not just honoring it, they were worshiping it. The Israelites were giving dulia and latria to the statue. We give nothing to the statue, rather we give honor and respect to what it represents: a creature of God. The respect goes directly to God. Get it James? I’ll draw a cartoon for you, so you can get it even better. I have a friend who is a great artist.

Rhetorical Critique:

The mocking in this segment is pretty obvious, even without being able to hear the tone of voice used. You’ll notice how Albrecht claims that “James was lost on his dulia/latria argument,” but Albrecht has great trouble in explaining why.

It’s ironic that Albrecht does not seem to understand that part of presenting an argument is explanation. Albrecht seems to think that he can just claim whatever he likes, and if people don’t agree with him, too bad. During the DL, Albrecht was either unwilling or unable to support “how” bowing to a statue in Moses’ day (giving proskuneo to the statue or the thing represented by the statue) would have been different from bowing to a statue today. Whether he even does so now, we’ll address in this substantive segment below.

The cartoon comment here is somewhat ironic. One of Dr. White’s friends has actually already drawn a cartoon to help folks like Albrecht “get it” with respect to trying to make overly nuanced distinctions. (link to cartoon – note that the cartoon is under ©)

Substantive Critique:

In order to provide the critique here, we have to look at Albrecht’s argument without all the rhetorical baggage. Dr. White had asked how bowing down to a statue in Old Testament times is different from bowing down to a statue of Mary. Let’s explore Albrecht’s answer.

Albrecht’s explanation:

1) We honor Mary, not a statue;
2) The honor the Israelites were giving to their statues was the honor due to a god, because that was their god;
3) They were not just honoring it, they were worshiping it;
4) The Israelites were giving dulia and latria to the statue;
5) We give nothing to the statue, rather we give honor and respect to what it represents: a creature of God; and
6) The respect goes directly to God.

As to (1), this seems to be the “our ancient ancestors were quite stupid” argument. This is the argument that today people understand that idols are representations of Mary, the Saints, Jesus, etc., but back then idolaters really thought that idol was the god. But is this so? Of course not.

There may have been some ancient superstitions associated with idols, just as there sometimes superstitions associated with Roman idols today. For example, today people sometimes bury statues of Joseph upside down in their yards in a particular way if they are trying to sell there house. This sort of practice is foolish. The statue is just an inanimate object. If it is made from molded resin, it could have easily been a toothbrush. If it is wooden, it could easily been part of your front door … and so forth.

But few people are so foolish as to attribute these powers to the statue itself. Instead, they attribute the powers to the saint or deity that the statue represents. Consider the Greeks and Romans. Now, granted that those were not the civilizations flourishing at the time of Moses, but do you think their concepts were much different from those of Persians and Egyptians? The Greeks at Ephesus did not think that Diana was the statue in the temple, or any of the copies that brought so much profit to the metalworkers of the city. Instead, those statues represented their goddess.

This kind of argument is just an insult to the intelligence of all of our idol-worshipping ancestors. Does Albrecht think they were all so stupid as to think that the piece of wood to which they bowed down was literally the god – or did they think that it represented their god? Surely the latter.

Thus, (1) is not a difference but a similarity between the forbidden use of idols in the Old Testament era and the forbidden use of idols in the New Testament era.

As to (2), this begs the question. It is true that Catholicism does not, at the present time, refer to Mary as a god or goddess. That does not conclude the matter. It may still be possible to give a creature inappropriate reverence – reverence that is proper for God alone. Furthermore, even if it did solve the problem with respect to Mary, it wouldn’t solve the problem with respect to Jesus – Christ is considered to be God by the followers of Catholicism.

As to (3), again, this begs the question. It is true that Catholicism today does not tend to use the English word “worship” to describe the reverence for Mary (though previous generations have not been so concerned about using such a description. Furthermore, it is plainly a part of the worship of Catholicism to give certain honors to Mary. Likewise, the difference between “worship” and “veneration” in Catholicism is just a rehashing of the very latria/dulia issue already being discussed.

That is to say, the question remains: why couldn’t an Old Testament Israelite simply say that he was “honoring” the statue if Moses caught him bowing down to it? I guess one could say that the Israelites hadn’t thought of the “honor/worship” distinction, but that basically admits that modern Catholicism invented it.

As to (4), the question is why Albrecht insists that this is the case. Why couldn’t the Israelite caught bowing down to a statue just claim he was only giving dulia to it? The answer is fairly obvious: no one would have considered that a legitimate excuse. To simply insist that the Israelites were giving both latria and dulia to the statue is not a valid answer, unless there is some reason that modern Catholicism can split the two up, which could not have been claimed by the ancient Israelites.

As to (5), this is already addressed under the “stupid ancients” discussion above. One must think that the ancient peoples were incredibly stupid if one thinks that the ancient peoples thought their idols were the gods themselves, not representations of the gods.

As to (6), to say that the respect goes directly to God is an odd claim. Clearly a certain amount of reverence is shown for the representation, which is transferred to the thing it represents. Even if the reverence to – for example – Mary is eventually transferred to God, it does not go there “directly.” Again, though, since we cannot really see the flow of respect (no need to draw a cartoon, Albrecht – we get the intended flow) – why couldn’t an Israelite caught bowing down to an idol have used this excuse?

Segment 6

Albrecht said:

A beautiful creature Mary was, of course, and is, which Saint Athanasius called “the mother of God.” And this is one point that I brought out and James, right away, he came out with, “Well, have you read my book? I cover the topic,” and blah blah blah and well, you know what James, I don’t need to read your anti-Catholic book to know what theotokos means, in any sense at all. That is a term that was used by the early church and the early councils and it brought glory to Christ our God and the wonderful faith he left us. It doesn’t need to be read upon in your book, ‘cause I already knew that. Would have been able to say that, as I was trying to say in the background, but I guess got muted when I tried to say stuff.

Rhetorical Critique:

The issue of whether Mary was called “the mother of God” by Athanasius is another tangent that Albrecht redirected the conversation towards. It is interesting to note that Albrecht is not ashamed or embarrassed to admit that he has judged Dr. White’s position here without considering the arguments he presents.

Albrecht practically caricatures himself when he says “I don’t need to read your anti-Catholic books … .” Albrecht’s ignorance here is unassailable. The person who refuses to read what the other side has to offer is simply not a serious student of the matter.

Scripture declares:

Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him.

What’s perhaps even worse is that Albrecht ignores what Dr. White has to say even after Dr. White takes the time to try to explain it to him. Notice how he turns Dr. White’s statements into just so many “blah”s.

Albrecht complains about getting muted, but he forgets to point out that he got muted because he tried to talk over Dr. White. It’s almost as though Albrecht imagines that Dr. White muted Albrecht because Albrecht was offering up an argument that was too tough to handle.

Substantive Critique:

Turning to the substance of the matter, Albrecht not only does not offer an argument that was too tough to handle, he offers something that could barely be considered an argument at all. Of course, Athanasius did not speak English. He did not use the term, “Mother of God.” Instead, he used the Greek term, Theotokos.

As Dr. White pointed out, this term was not a term of praise or honor for Mary, nor was it intended to be. It was a term that was Christological in its significance. The point of the term was that what was inside Mary was the God-man, not merely a man. This is significant against certain heretics that deny that Christ was the Word made flesh – that he was God-man from conception.

The term is perhaps more accurately translated “God-bearer” than “mother of God.” The entire point of the phrase, however, is not to give praise or reverence to Mary, but to describe the incarnation. The idea that using the term “theotokos” was somehow intended as “dulia” to Mary is completely absurd.

Segment 7

Albrecht said:

So, what it all boils down to is, James once again making all sorts of threats about embarrassing me on your show and all sorts of things to my, sending me all these sorts of emails, but it all ends with James being so frustrated, so frustrated that he had to hang up on me. So wonderful, James. You can mute me all you want and hang up on me all you want, it won’t change anything James, and don’t use the excuse that, “Oh, you know what, I accidentally hung up on him.” You put me on mute first, James, then, after a little while, you hung up on me. You didn’t accidentally cut me off James. You’re lying to your viewers. You are being really dishonest, because you tapped the mute button, and I was on the line for a little while to see if, you know what, maybe James will get the guts to hit the unmute button and allow me to at least say, “You know what, I had a good time being mistreated on your show,” but James put me on mute, and then, he hung up on me. Wow. Bravo. No matter what you do, James, no matter how many times you mute me or hang up on me, it won’t change the fact that I will forever oppose the false doctrines that your ministry puts forth. And yes, oh yes, I will be defending the Catholic faith until the very end. God bless!

Rhetorical Critique:

Albrecht is just not telling the truth here. You can listen to the DL for yourself. We last hear Albrecht at 57:15 or 57:16, immediately before Dr. White says “Hey, William, Thank You .. Oh Sorry …” and begins apologize for accidentally disconnecting him. Albrecht may have taken a few seconds to realize that he had been disconnected, but there are less than three elapsed seconds (at the very most) between the time we last hear Albrecht’s voice and the time that Dr. White apologizes for accidentally disconnecting him.

Albrecht’s claim here that Dr. White is “lying to his viewers” (he should say, “listeners”) is simply inexcusable. It is Albrecht himself that has trouble with the truth.

Furthermore, Dr. White’s frustration had nothing to do with the strength of Albrecht’s arguments, but with the fact that Albrecht repeatedly tried to interrupt and talk over Dr. White. What is even more amazing is that Albrecht tries to make out that he was mistreated! All one has to do to see that this is not true is to listen to the great patience that Dr. White extended to Albrecht despite his failure to answer direct questions, his failure to let Dr. White talk without interruption, and so forth.

It is interesting that Albrecht himself is not embarrassed about how he acted on the show. He doesn’t seem to see how he abused the patience of his host and refused to be civil in the conversation. Albrecht’s not even embarrassed to suggest that if had not been providentially disconnected, he would have snidely said “You know what, I had a good time being mistreated on your show.”

Substantive Critique:

Well, again, there isn’t any substance in this segment, so it is not really possible to provide a substantive critique. It’s all rhetoric. He calls Dr. White’s positions “false” and claims he will “defend” his own views “forever” and “to the end,” but he hasn’t established any falsity in Dr. White’s position and hasn’t provided a cogent defense of his own position.

For more discussion on this topic, consider reading Rhology’s post (here) at the Beggars All Reformation blog or the brief discussion in the blog archives (scroll to the 4/16/04 entry). You can also obtain a copy of Dr. White’s debate with Patrick Madrid on this topic at the Alpha and Omega Ministries bookstore (link).


Piper Answers WSC #1

August 26, 2008

In the following video, Piper both in effect answers the first question to the Westminster Shorter Catechism, and also reminds us that Missions is a means to an end, not an end in itself:

May God bring in a rich harvest of worshipers,


Regulative Principle of Worship

March 26, 2007

I have agreed to do a blog-based debate of the Regulative Principle of Worship. I will update this blog with more details as the debate progresses. Timothy, this means that I will probably have a bit of delay in responding to your comments regarding the Lord’s Supper. Nevertheless, certain aspects of the debate may touch on Roman Catholic issues, and I certainly plan to explain how a consistent Reformed worldview (as contrasted with a Roman Catholic worldview) ought to embrace the Regulative Principle, although my debate opponent will be a Reformed apologist who does not, to my knowledge, currently embrace the Regulative Principle.

Here’s a link to the debate, for which my opening statement has been made:

Any comments, questions, and especially criticisms are welcome.

Since you bothered to come to this blog, here’s a couple extra links for further reading on the subject:

And here’s one slightly critical view in a four-part series. I don’t plan to directly respond at this time, and I don’t know whether it is this line that Centuri0n, with whom I’m debating, will be taking this poster’s line:

And here’s a link to a very low quality presentation of an attempted rebutal of RPW by a supporter of the Normative Principle of Worship (NPW) using the typical, ad hominem arguments and failing either positively to establish NPW, or to address the standard RPW rebuttals of the arguments presented.

I trust that Centuri0n will present something much more thoughtful, and I look forward to the debate.

May God’s blessing rest on all who pass by,



My conclusion is posted here:

I will try to edit this page (or similar pages here) to provide links for further information for folks who are wondering about the topic.

%d bloggers like this: