Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Indulgences Debate Summary


OK, for my summary of this debate:

All other side-topics aside (and there were a few on both sides in this debate)...

1) Williams - He does a very good job of representing what indulgences ARE and does drive home the fundamental FACT that indulgences are not contrary to the Gospel, they are an INSTRUMENT of the Gospel. Peter not only points out the organic development of the doctrine in Sacred Tradition (as opposed to a mutatative development) but also points out scriptural references to support the belief and teaching.

2) White - While in his Opening Statement DOES say indulgences are only for those who are already saved - he apparently ignores that FACT - and continually equivocates indulgences to salvation, which, as Peter and myself state repeatedly, are not salvific. Indulgences, as James correctly posits (and ignores) can ONLY be applied to those who are ALREADY SAVED and/or are IN THE STATE OF GRACE. James repeatedly tried to say indulgences somehow earn salvation, but again - that position is absolutely DENIED by true Catholic teaching and confession. 

White's myopic focus on that which indulgences are NOT is why he loses this debate.  Even if he concedes what indulgences ARE, he loses - because then he would also have to admit that indulgences do NOT deny the Gospel - which IS the question of this debate.

Back to Indulgences Debate Index

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Indulgences Debate

This article serves as the Index Page for my commentary on a debate on Indulgences between James R. White and Peter D. Williams. The debate took place in Belfast, Northern Ireland in an Anglican church on June 4, 2018. The title/question for this debate was "Does the Doctrine of Indulgences Deny the Gospel?"

James White, asserting the positive (that indulgences DO deny the Gospel message) goes first...






Indulgences Debate Commentary Part 1


Do Indulgences Deny The Gospel?

So goes the title of a debate between James White (Reformed Baptist) and Peter D. Williams (Catholic). Below are my notes and quotes from the debate and my comments will be inserted in this font/color.

One point I would like to open with, and White even mentions this fact and that is, indulgences are applied against "time" in Purgatory. Indulgences have absolutely nothing to do with salvation - as those who might receive an indulgence are ALREADY SAVED. It is this latter point which White erroneous equates indulgences with salvation and hence he confuses indulgences with the Gospel. One thing I would like to say up-front - in the terms of THIS debate, White is put at a disadvantage in going first. Williams should have gone first to spell out the terms and definitions as used by Catholics. As you will see below, White (repeatedly) uses wrong terminology and/or applies the terminology wrongly.

Indulgentiarum Doctrina [White cites this numerous times, here's the source:] - https://w2.vatican.va/content/paul-vi/en/apost_constitutions/documents/hf_p-vi_apc_01011967_indulgentiarum-doctrina.html 

Section 7

Temporal punishments due to sins (which have been forgiven) are able to remitted through indulgences.

The treasure made up of merit gained by Jesus Christ and the Saints, excess merit which can be doled out to those on earth,

Norm #1 - White quotes stating the sins are "already forgiven." This is the key point which White quotes, but seems to ignore. You will see below, while he opens with a proper definition (so maybe Williams going first would not have changed things) he continually goes into terminology of justification and salvation - which has nothing to do with indulgences for those who have been justified - those who ARE saved.

You cannot gain indulgences by purchasing them, but they are still available. You can get one simply by attending an upcoming conference in Dublin, Ireland - and not just a partial indulgence, but a plenary - or totally remits all temporal punishment.

This is the concept of indulgences is wholly unbiblical and never taught by any of the Apostles and thus is a later invention of the Catholic Church - "it was a long process to get there," White states.  White believes it is built upon a "fundamental misunderstanding of God's Grace and especially the nature of the Gospel" and based "on a long line of unbiblical concepts, including but not limited to:
  • The unbiblical distinction between mortal and venial sins.
  • The concept of sacramental penances.
  • The entire concept of the Roman priesthood and its alleged powers and authorities to levy temporal punishments upon the souls of those already justified in the Righteousness of Christ and who, in their ordination, call themselves an alter christus (another Christ).
  • Likewise, the concept of excess merit which can somehow be stored, controlled, counted, put into a treasury and then transmitted to other people through the power of the keys given only to Peter.
  • Then the utterly non-apostolic concept of the treasury of merit combined with the errant belief that the Bishop of Rome possesses the keys of Peter that could control such a treasure when in fact that authority to bind and loose was given to all of the Apostles and not to Peter alone. 
After bringing up all these topics, he dismisses them stating we could go into half a dozen different topics from the papacy and priesthood which he's already debated and refers us to his earlier debates. So why throw these out there in the first place? It would appear he just wanted to make these statements, all of which do relate to the subject of indulgences - but doesn't want Peter (or us) to respond to them. In essence, exposing the jury to details, but then withdrawing the statement so while there is to be no discussion, the jury has already heard him. Since he brought them up, let's deal with them instead of just letting it pass...
  • The distinction between mortal and venial sins is most definitely biblically based! 1 John 5:16-17: If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death (venial), he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death (mortal); I do not say that he should make request for this. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not leading to death (venial)[NASB, parenthetical insertions mine]. White is simply wrong here to state this is an unbiblical distinction. Now, he might want to interpret this differently (I don't really see how) but he cannot say mortal v. venial sins is unbiblical when it clearly is biblical. That being said, the distinction between mortal and venial sins is not the topic of this debate - a misdirection by White.
  • Sacramental Penances - No such thing. There is the Sacrament of Penance, which is Confession and typically a penance is given but White is mixing terminology here. Confession is based in John 20:22-23 - (Jesus) said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.” (NASB) This authority is given to the Apostles, and in the previous verse Jesus tells them that as the Father sent Him, He sends them (v. 21). Clearly succession is here and since He gave them this authority to forgive or retain sins, they were to pass this authority on to others.
  • "The entire concept of the Roman (Catholic) priesthood" - OK, that's huge, but really - it is based in John 20:21-22 (as above).
  • "...and authorities to levy temporal punishments upon the souls of those already justified in the Righteousness of Christ." Priests do not "levy temporal punishments." White is just wrong here (again).
  • "...and who, in their ordination, call themselves an alter christus (another Christ)." Well, specifically this refers to when the priest consecrates the Eucharist and he does speak in persona christi - in the person of Christ. When the priest says, "This is My body" he refers to the body of Christ, not his own. This is not a topic for this debate.
  • The concept of excess merit... I believe this is a development, but it does not oppose the Gospel.
  • "...the power of the keys, given only to Peter." The only time "the keys" are mentioned is in giving those keys to Peter (Matthew 16:18-19). This is not a topic for this debate.
  • "the authority to bind and loose was given to all the Apostles and not to Peter alone." We agree! The authority to bind and loose is not the same as the authority of the keys. Yes, all the Apostles together are given the authority to bind and loose in Matthew 18:18. Peter is given that authority alone in Matthew 16:18-19. So, that which Peter can do on his own, the rest of the Apostles (bishops) can do as a group, such as in an ecumenical council. This is not a topic for this debate.
Back to the debate...
Now, number one:
Indulgences are based upon the Thesaurus Meritorum, from the Treasury of Merit. There is no basis for believing the amount of blood shed is relevant to some concept of merit. The reality is in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it was the Perfect Life given that saves, not the amount of blood shed. The amount of blood shed does not create some sort of excess merit. God's purpose was specifically to redeem a specific people He does so perfectly, there's nothing left over or accidental and it is in union with Christ that we then receive that benefit, it is not about the amount of blood that is shed. The elect are saved by union with Christ in His death, the idea that a single drop of blood could redeem the world misses the reality of God's purpose of the union of the elect with the God-Man.
There is nothing in any doctrine of indulgences which mentions "the amount of blood shed," so I do not know where this is coming from. Another misdirection from White.
Further, the mixture of Mary and the Saints with that of Christ is a blasphemous error. His saving power is utterly unique as the God-Man.  Mary was not the god-woman, the Saints are not god-people. The merit He has as the God-Man absolutely unique to Himself and the only reason that Mary and the Saints are in Heaven is due to His merit in the first place. So, how could they have merit which would add to His merit when they are dependent upon Him to get there in the first place? Mixing merit shows a fundamental heresy regarding the ground of our forgiveness with God. The idea of the Church on Earth, in any fashion, controls this mythical treasury or can dispense its fictional benefits is utterly unknown to any apostolic witness of Scripture. Where does an Apostle teach anything like this?
 And yet another misdirection from White. Again, merits applied from indulgences do NOT "save" anyone, as White has already admitted, they are only applied to those who are already saved.

Indulgences fundamentally deny the purpose of God in conforming believers to the image of Christ in sanctification, (walking through doors, or climbing up stairs on your knees, or attending conferences, in no way mortifies remaining sin or brings one closer to Christ. 

Indulgences, again, are only applied to those who are in the state of Sanctifying Grace, they are "saved," and are being tested, as by fire. (1 Cor. 3:12-15).
We do not grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ by attaining mythical merit via indulgences.

There can be definite growth in grace (God's life in us) and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, especially if the indulgenced act is something like the pious exercise of the Way of the Cross or reading Scripture with devotion due to God's Word for at least a half an hour. Certainly these are means of increasing "God's life in us" and can be bringing us closer to Christ. So again, White is simply wrong on this.

White accepts and acknowledges apostolic succession and then redefines what it means, He does NOT accept the concept of the succession being the OFFICE of the bishop, which IS the apostolic office each of the Apostles held and passed on to successors.  White states it is "a succession of truth, that is, you stand in the succession of the Apostles when you teach what the Apostles taught." Yes, that IS a "succession of truth," but it is NOT the historical. It is common for the Protestant to deny REAL apostolic succession in the OFFICE of the bishop - because to acknowledge that not only gives tacit consent to valid succession all the way back to the Apostles, but also would mean this OFFICE would also carry with it apostolic authority. 
White jumps from indulgences to justification (yet another misdirection) and brings up Romans and that we have peace in His Grace.  None of these things add to our justification, they do not add to our peace with God, but they do conform us to the image of Christ...  Christ alone died for us... anything which detracts from Christ, anything which puts the focus on us or anyone else misses the New Testament and apostolic teaching. Much more than being justified... by how?  By His blood. He repeats, "By His blood; that is the giving of His life, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him."  
And I repeat - indulgences is not about being "saved." Those in Purgatory have already escaped God's wrath! This time of purification (since nothing impure can enter into Heaven [Rev. 21:27]). At this point I am not convinced that White is deliberately misdirecting (maybe he is?) but rather he truly does not understand the concepts of purification in Purgatory or the distinction between forgiveness and the removal of temporal punishments.  Being saved from God's wrath (Hell) and being set free from Purgatory are NOT the same thing - yet White continually confuses the two, as we see next:
White asks, "What are temporal punishments?"  White adds, "I have been justified by His blood and I will be saved from the wrath of God, not just in eternity, but against the wrath of God against sins through Him."  "For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. Are we truly reconciled, or is there a necessity of some sort of further reconciliation? We shall be saved by His life, (no one else's) and not only this but we also exalt in God through Jesus Christ through whom we have now received the reconciliation. We do not need to be seeking some sort of reconciliation through indulgences for the forgiveness of temporal punishments of our sins.
I hope you can see what I am talking about here! White is confusing justification and salvation with indulgences and the removal of temporal punishments due to sin. I feel I need to keep repeating myself - the removal of temporal punishments is NOT justification! The removal of temporal punishments is NOT salvation! Those for whom indulgences might be applied ARE ALREADY JUSTIFIED! Those for whom indulgences might be applied ARE ALREADY SAVED! So again, this is either deliberate misdirection OR White truly does NOT understand the concepts we are discussing here.

You might say, "But does not God discipline us?"  Yes He does, but there is a vast difference between the wrath of God in punishment, temporal punishments for sins and the fatherly chastening of His people. In Hebrews chapter 12, which White then quotes:
"it is for discipline that you endure - not for cleansing so that you can enter into the presence of God. It is for discipline that you endure, God deals with you as with sons, for which son is there which God does not discipline? But if you are without discipline of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Furthermore, we had earthly fathers which discipline us and we respected them, shall we not much rather be subject to the Father of Spirits and live? For if they disciplined us for a short time as seen best to them, but He disciplines us for our good so that we might share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterward yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness." 
God chastens us, He chastens us, His people; that is not the same thing as temporal punishments assigned to you by a priest that you must have cleansed from your soul either through your own suffering in Purgatory, your acts of penance on Earth or by the deposit to your account of the foreign mixed merits of Jesus, Mary and the Saints.
And again with the erroneous statement that priests assign temporal punishments. That concept is wholly foreign to the Catholic teaching on indulgences. I would also say that the topic of disciplining us is yet another misdirection. Time spent in Purgatory is not for disciplining so that one might learn a lesson and grow in awe and respect - it is simply a time of purification for those who have already been saved, already been forgiven. 
 
White used to use an example (for another reason) of his Cross Medalist pen, let me use that image for a moment. Let's say I stole White's Cross Medalist pen. Later, I'm feeling a bit guilty and/or sorry for doing this so I go to him and say, "James, I'm sorry I stole your pen." White could then say, "Thank you for coming to me and admitting this, I do forgive you... now one more thing... you need to return the pen to me or reimburse me for the cost of the pen." While White may have forgiven me the offense of stealing his pen, I will not really be welcome in his presence if I have not returned the pen and/or paid him for the cost of that pen. "Truly, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny." [Matthew 5:26 and Luke 12:59].
How is the justice of God satisfied in me?  Well, what did Paul say in Romans 8:1?  "Therefore there is now no condemnation (for whom?) for those who are in Christ Jesus.  It is union with Christ.  It is His death in my place. It is Him bearing my sins. My receiving His righteousness by God's grace, through faith. That is what satisfies the justice of God.  
And again, White confuses the terms of "condemnation" and "Purgatory." He does not use the word "Purgatory" here, but it is from there that a person is released once they have no more temporal punishment remaining.
God's justice is not satisfied by someone thinking that they are going to be able to be made right before God, that they are going to have the justice of God satisfied in them by attending a conference in Dublin in a few weeks. That does not satisfy the justice of God... and to say that it does, fundamentally, denies what Lord Jesus Christ went through on the Cross of Calvary.  
And again, White confuses the satisfaction of God's justice with Purgatory. Those in Purgatory have ALREADY satisfied His justice and ARE saved.
You want to see what satisfies the justice of God, then see what the Son suffers on Calvary itself. (Quoting the Catechism of Pope Pius X...) "And obtain possession of Heaven sooner and more easily."  I can't obtain the possession of Heaven.  You see the only way that I can believe that I will be in the presence of God is if I am in the ONE who perfectly fulfilled all of God's Law.  The ONE in whom is eternal life. The ONE in whom the wrath of God finds no place. The perfect God-Man, Jesus Christ.  If I am in Him, I have His life and the wrath of God finds no place in me, only - only because I am in Him and He has born that wrath already in His body upon the tree. So I cannot possess Heaven by anything I do in this life.  The Christian message is I flee from all the manmade works and I trust solely in Jesus Christ. That is the only way to possess Heaven.
White repeats this error so many times, I have to repeat my answer! Those in Purgatory ARE saved, but until there is no remnant of impurity (temporal punishments due to sin) they cannot enter Heaven [Rev. 21:27]. Purgatory is NOT "God's wrath!" Purgatory is God's love! THAT is the "possession" which Pope Pius X's catechism refers to.
When we're talking about grace. When we're talking about forgiveness... we're talking about salvation. There is a God-centered way... and then there's a way which says, oh, absolutely necessary, gotta have Him... but... but... there's all this other material that you can claim comes from the Apostles - but I'm going to say, "please show us in meaning means of exegesis of Scripture where the Apostles ever taught any of this."  Since this has to do with the Gospel, we cannot abandon that, we dare not abandon that. Thank you very much for your attention. (James leaves the podium...)
Since we are talking about temporal punishment and indulgences we are NOT talking about forgiveness... we are NOT talking about salvation! White demonstrates here that he either does not know what he's talking about - or he's deliberately deceiving the audience and playing a little shell game - hiding the REAL topic - since he's yet to actually deal with the REAL topic.

34:20 - Then Peter comes to the stand.

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r0f95nvmfVs




Here is the full debate on YouTube provided through James White's Alpha and Omega Ministries:
(2 hours, 42 minutes)


Click Here to go back to Indulgences Debate Index.

Indulgences Debate Commentary Part 2

OK, we've heard from James White, now at about the 34 minute mark it's Peter Williams' turn. 

Williams opens by thanking everyone for being there and having him there to discuss what he says are crucial topics. Right here I'd like to, respectfully, correct Williams. This is NOT a crucial topic! White is trying to MAKE it a crucial topic by equivocating indulgences to the Gospel - but as we have seen in Part 1 of my response - and as every Catholic who knows his/her Faith should know, if the topic is indulgences it is NOT about salvation and therefore is NOT about the Gospel at all. Williams can win the debate on this point alone.
Williams begins his actual opening statement in explaining what White has defined:
Let's note the nature of the proposition before us... My opponent has proposed this evening that indulgences are a fundamental denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. To see why he is completely wrong, I think we have to answer two fundamental questions: 1) What are indulgences? and much more basically... 2) What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I propose to answer both and comparing one to the other we'll show why indulgences are fundamentally an affirmation and an application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Here I will interject - Williams is leaving room for White to continue diverting this debate into something it is not. While indulgences are indeed an affirmation and application of God's love and compassion for us - it is fundamentally NOT the Gospel message and again, I believe Williams could win this debate on THIS fact, alone. He continues...
What is the Gospel, let's start with that. I think that is the most fundamental. (From Greek) euangelion - evangelion those are the fundamental words underneath it, reducible to "good" and "news" - eu meaning "good" and angelion meaning "messenger" from the Old English, Godspell, Good News. Very arguably this is deeply unhelpful however as a translation of euangelion. That we've had lovely weather recently, that was good news. If someone buys me a pint after this debate, that would be good news, certainly. But to describe however, the cosmic, awesome, life changing, Earth shattering, wonderful news of Jesus Christ, to describe that as "good news" is damning by faint praise, a pathetic translation. Rather, "Gospel" is an announcement of victory. In the closer context of the 1st centuries BC and AD... using the documents we have (both secular and religious) it is using the documents we have to denote a specific form of good tiding, it is the announcement of a great victory.  So here's the situation... your city is about to be invaded by an army from a surrounding nation, and your army has gone out to meet them on the battlefield - and you're terrified because if the enemy reaches the city they'll torch everything, the men will be killed, women raped, the children enslaved - it will be disaster - an existential threat to your very existence. And then, a corus, a herald comes along and declares, "The battle is won!" There is no more threat, the invading army has been destroyed... "we're safe."  THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is a euangelion. THAT is the kind of thing we're talking about... 37:15... Christians took this word from the surrounding culture and they used it, invested it with new meaning. The Gospel then, the Christian euangelion is the proclamation of a fact. The fact is the victory of Christ is accomplished and the establishment of His Messianic Kingdom. The use of the term "Gospel" then evolved in way it is employed in the early modern period, to not just be the basic announcement of a fact of Christ's redemption - but also whole New Covenant Law, the whole New Covenant itself established by Him and in His Church. But initially, scripturally, it is the announcement of that event of the coming of the kingdom through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
38:30 - Peter goes into a short discussion of the nature of God Himself 
....as the ipse esse subsistence, the Subsistant Being, Himself, the Ground of All Being. God is not "a being" like "a bloke" or a superman, like Thor, God is the Source of All Being, All Goodness, All Perfection. All perfection comes from Him because He IS goodness, He IS perfection. They flow from His nature as God. He is Holy. Since He is the perfect source of goodness all sin is an offense against Him, the Transcendent Creator, and it creates an inequality of justice a debt which has to be satisfied in order for the sinner to enter into communion with Him. If that does not happen, then justice has to be applied...
45:36 - Applying concept to Justification...
The Council of Trent, which is the great council which dealt with Justification and Salvation, more broadly, uses this schema: The Efficient Cause, the Principle Efficient Cause, of our Justification of our Salvation, is the Merciful Blessed Trinity. The Secondary Efficient Cause is grace merited by Christ on the Cross, because it is the propensitory Sacrifice of the Cross which makes satisfaction for us unto the Father and merited Justification. Christ is the SOLE, MERITORIOUS CAUSE. There are instrumental causes, however, that communicate the grace that was bought for us by His Sacrifice. What are those?  Baptism, Confession, our ongoing works as well, these are all INSTRUMENTAL causes. What do I mean by that?  They are means by which we access that which Christ has merited for us. It's a bit like this... I'm a child and I want a shower - who pays the bill for that?  It's my dad. The father has paid the bill for the shower to take place. The efficient cause of my being cleansed would be the water flowing released in the secondary sense, but I have to turn the faucet on. The turning of the faucet on doesn't earn me anything, the turning of the faucet doesn't merit in a strict sense, my shower, but I have to do it otherwise I won't gain the benefits of it. Do you see the difference? Meritorious cause is who pays for it, who merits it; instrumental cause is how you gain the benefits of it.
47:10 - So what are Indulgences?
How is all this relevant?  We've answered what the Gospel is and we've answered what the meritorious cause is. The announcement of Christ's Victory especially for the perfect propitiatory Sacrifice of His Cross, the offering of His Precious Blood. So, how does this affect indulgences? Well, let's just define what they are. We had a decent, faithful definition from Dr. White, now let's see more into it.  Well, indulgences are the remission before God the temporal punishment, temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed going into the certain prescribed conditions for the acts of the Church when as the minister of redemption she dispenses and supplies from the treasury of the merits of Christ and the Saints and note those three things I've emphasized. 1) The temporal punishment; 2) The minister of redemption; 3) The treasury of merit. We're going to go into those.
Temporal punishment v. eternal punishment. The eternal punishment due unto our sins is avoided by our access to the instrumental cause of our justification. The grace merited by the Cross which we gain through Baptism through Faith, in other words through all the Sacraments. Nonetheless, we still suffer temporal punishments for sin, and we see this - there are penalties that we go through, through our lives as part of God's organization of cosmic justice throughout the world. Regardless of our eternal punishment, which thankfully we have avoided, by the Cross in a direct sense, there are still temporal punishments we have to go through, one of which are the penal consequences, the penalties, of Original Sin. Women suffering in childbirth; man working by the sweat of his brow; suffering and death itself. Now, those of you who believe yourself to be forgiven of Original Sin, I imagine it most of you here - certainly everyone who has been baptized. Okay, which of the men who think so do not expect to work by the sweat of their brow? Which of the women who think so, don't expect to, if you haven't already, suffer through childbirth? Who here never expects to experience suffering or physical death? Yeah, I thought so. No one here is a fantacist, that's good. So who here has never suffered any temporal consequences for their sin as well (personal sin)? That's the next bed. We have penal consequences and punishments of personal sin. If I go out and sleep with a prostitute and get an STD, well that's a penal consequence of my sin. If I lie and suffer humiliation when I'm found out, that is a penal consequence of my sin, a temporal consequence of my sin. And we see this, don't we, in Holy Scripture itself. Look for example at Samuel 12, the incidence of King David after King David has killed Uriah the Hittite, and he has stolen his wide, effectively - he has slept with Bathsheba and made her pregnant, committed adultery in other words. He is sorry for his sin, he has repents of his sin, very, very powerfully in fact he's weeping, fasting, he's laying prostrate on the ground for seven days. He is forgiven by God and yet despite his forgiveness he suffers temporal punishment. His temporal punishment is what? The death of the child he has conceived with Bathsheba and rape of his wives, which in a sense is a payback for he did. He killed, so a life for a life. He violates his sexual integrity so his sexual integrity, via his wives, is thereby dealt with as well. This was a redress. That is temporal punishment and we see this collectively as well. The fact that the Israelites did not trust that He would be there ultimately and bring them to the Promised Land, and what does this mean to the Israelites who did this? They had to go round and round in the desert and never see the Promised Land, ultimately. Their lack of patience meant that their impatience that their patience later would never be rewarded.
So, how do we deal with this?  How does this temporal punishment get dealt with? Well, we deal with it through our experience, we deal with it through our everyday sanctification. We also deal with it through what is called Purgatory. Purgatory is a state after death where those who are justified go through any remaining temporal punishment for their sins as part of a final purification. This process is called "satispatsio" as we've seen. "Satis-" meaning enough, satiated in other words and "-patsio" suffering. We know nothing unclean shall enter Heaven. We know that without holiness, no one will see God. Yet, we all die in a state where we're not completely sanctified. No one dies morally perfect. We all have sanctification to go through by the time we go (through death). So Purgatory satisfies the lesser cosmic justice of temporal punishment, but also frees us as well from last remaining impurities and imperfections finishing our sanctification. We see this in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 which describes an eschatological fire which a person, through their works, is tried and rewarded in the good and suffering in the bad when it talks about suffering loss... So it also describes a financial penalty, and punishment elsewhere, other forms of punishment elsewhere in the Septuagint. In the New Testament it is actually used to actually denote eternal punishment. So this is a phrase used not to describe "oh, I've lost out on something," no, it means a penalty you suffer because of the works that are burnt up.
If you want to see the context of this idea of the fire that burns up the wood, the hay and the straw or purifies the good silver and precious stones, look at all the other references that are there within the Holy Scriptures to this idea of the purifying fire. "The crucible is for silver and the furnace is for gold... and the Lord tries hearts," that's Proverbs 17:3. "Purify themselves and be refined," Daniel 12:10. "And I will put this third into the fire and refine them as one refines silver and test them as gold is tested," Zachariah 13:9. "But He is like a refiners fire and like full of soap, He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver until they present right sacrifices to the Lord," (Malachi 3:2-3) and so on and so forth. All of these references to gold and silver, sound familiar? That is exactly the wording used in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. 
53:40 - Williams makes a reference to C.S. Lewis (an Anglican), and also asserts "Even if you're not Catholic, you almost intuit(ively), by virtue of the facts, you realize the way that sanctification works, that sanctification involves suffering..."
."..As Dr. White rightly said when we heard that we have this false dichotomy between temporal punishment and fatherly chastening; there is no distinction between them, they are the same thing. The same God who is Holiness and Justice is the same God who is Love and Mercy. They both happen at the same time.
We see prayers for the dead as an illustration this, 2 Maccabees 12:41-45, but I don't have much time to go into this too much, but the idea there is Judas Maccabees is effectively trying to pray for and offer sacrifice on behalf of Jews who have died. Now, all this really proves is prayers for the dead, it doesn't prove Purgatory and I'm not saying it does, all I'm saying is the idea of praying for the dead, the idea of making sacrifices for the dead was something which was very much believed at the time and to this day all Orthodox Jews pray for the dead. The Mourner's Kaddish is something you pray, as an Orthodox Jew, a year after the death of your loved one, as all ancient Christian churches indeed do. Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Catholic Church all pray for the dead. You don't need to pray for those in Heaven; there's no point in praying for those in Hell; so what does that indicate?  It indicates a tertium quid, a third thing, a state whereby our prayers can help those in that state.
Spiritual Solidarity...
55:55 - We don't just help the dead by prayers, but also by spiritual solidarity. We see this in the third century practice of libelli. Libelli was certificates of indulgence which were issued to people in the third century generally in North Africa and Asia Minor in which confessors or martyrs interceded for "the lapsi" - those who had effectively apostacized under the Roman persecution but had come back to repentance. Confessors, that is to say the pastors of these souls, were understood to be petitioning that their own merits should be applied to the lapsi to procure for them the remission of the temporal punishment due to their defection. This was not simply the remission of canonical penance, which is effectively what the Church says as a discipline against you, rather it was believed that it availed before God and remitted the temporal punishment that would otherwise be required after death. If you want to see a discussion of this, go to St. Cyprian's On The Lapsed
Beware of Linguistic Anachronism...
56:45 - Now beware of, I've just used the word "merit" and we heard it discussed somewhat in Dr. White's presentation, beware of linguistic anachronism and ambiguity. When we use the term "merit" we don't mean it is earning something. We don't mean, I've already made it very clear, the sole meritorious cause of our salvation is what? Christ and His Precious Blood, it is not us. Strictly speaking, only Christ strictly merits anything, all we do is receive rewards, due rewards. We see this in Romans 2:6, that He will render unto everyone according to his works. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 who plants and he who waters is equal and each one shall receive his wages according to his labor. This isn't trying to say that you earn salvation or you earn grace, you can't possibly earn grace, by definition. What it is saying is that our good works are rewarded by a loving Father with further grace, not sanctification.
Analogy of Father and Child...
57:35 - The analogy I'll use is of a father and a child. If a father says to a child, "You know if you do your chores, if you mow the lawn, let's say, I'll take you out to the cinema, or I'll buy you an ice cream or buy you a present or something like that." Now that is the commercial quid pro quo. You don't say, "Alright, I've earned that now, Dad," no Dad could just say, "Do your chores" without any reward whatsoever. But, because of his loving condescension and kindness to his child he gives him a reward. That is what we're talking about. The whole way that Christianity works, the whole way the Church works, the whole way our salvation works - is not as a law culture, is not as a quid pro quo relationship, it's as a loving Father to His children. That's what we're talking about. That's when we talk about merit, when the Church talks about merits, that is what its talking about. In fact, St. Augustine of Hippo, in fact all our works enabled by grace, this is why St. Augustine can say, because all our works that we do are enabled by God's actual graces themselves, the supernatural life that He pours into us to enable us to do this, he says "If then your merits are God's gifts, God does not crown your merits as your merits but as His own gifts." So this is not a matter of earning salvation or trusting on something other than Christ or trusting in something other than God, it's about appealing through Christ. That's why St. Philip Neri says, "Never say what great things the Saints do, but what great things God does in His Saints." Again, what are we? We are instrumental causes. We're not meritorious causes; the only meritorious cause is Christ alone.
The Thesaurus Meritorium...
59:10 - There is also the concept we have heard, the thesaurus meritorium is the idea that all the merits that Christ has, all the merits of His Precious Blood, and all the merits that He causes through us are all in this treasury of merit. Now that's absolutely true! Note the difference, however, between the Efficient Cause of it, God, the true strict meritorious cause, this is God the Son, and again the instrumental causes which contribute to it, which is simply us. Simply God pouring His grace through us and meriting His own merits thereby. So a mixture of Christ's merits and those of the Saints, like Mary, because the merits of the Saints are not alien to those of Christ - they ARE the merits of Christ poured into us! You can't merit anything on your own, only in the grace of God can you. The merits of the Saints are the merits of Christ applied in the lives of His Saints. The reason why you can believe in the idea of indulgences is, the application of those merits is because of the power of the keys.
The Power of the Keys...
1:00:05 - The power of the keys is this, in Matthew 16:18-19, St. Peter is promised by Christ the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. Now, He says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus answers him, "Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven has and I tell you, you are Peter and on this rock I will build My Church and the powers of death (the gates of Hell) shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom and whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Heaven." Now this is an allusion back. Anyone who heard these words of our Lord would have known what He was saying. It goes back to Isaiah 22:15-23 where the Lord replaces Shebna as the asher al habayit, that is to say the chap who is over the house, the chief steward of the Davidic Kingdom who is given the key of the House of David (Isaiah 22:22).
This is Hugely Important...
1:00:56 -This is hugely important when we understand why our Lord is making reference to this, Christ as the Messiah, as Mashiac, is also the Davidic King. He has come to fulfill the Davidic prophecies that the establishment of the Davidic Kingdom would happen again. By promising to give to St. Peter the keys to the kingdom our Lord is investing him with a station analogous to that of Eliakim and others who were the al hiakim (sp?), especially of the Messianic significance of the king who was king at the time. King Hezekiah, remember King Hezekiah? Just before he died, he's on his deathbed and he asks God for mercy, and God says, "I've heard thy prayer, I've seen thy tears and behold I've healed thee - ON THE THIRD DAY thou shall go to the Temple of the Lord." Anyone hearing Christ allude to this is going to realize He is making a Messianic reference and he's going to associate Jesus and Peter with Hezekiah and Eliakim. The keys indicate a spiritual authority. Not just the kingdom of Heaven includes the earthly Church as we see from the use of phrase, kingdom of Heaven, by our Lord in parables in Matthew 13 for example, but because the keys referred to in the Book of the Apocalypse refer to keys of death and of Hell and the bottomless pit. That's why the gates of Hell cannot prevail against the Church - because the Church has the keys to these places. Dr. White might want to say that verses disprove Petrine authority, Christ holds these keys in the book of the Apocalypse and the key to the House of David in Apocalypse 3:7 is said to be held by Him in particularly - but this tells us absolutely nothing. Christ is delegating His authority to St. Peter as the Davidic kings did to their chief stewards. They don't relinquish the keys, they delegate them, besides which the Book of the Apocalypse is eschatological and thereby based on future events when Earth is passing away.
The Nuptial Covenant...
1:02:36 - This is all about the nuptial covenant because the Church is in that nuptial covenant. We heard earlier about the Lamb... "Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb" because the idea of the covenant is a nuptial image. Holy Scripture, especially St. Paul, shows the diatheke, the covenant is not a purely passive inheritance, it's a transactional relationship. It's not unilateral, it's bilateral. It is a relationship, in other words and we see that use in that simile in Ephesians 5.
In the nuptial framework of St. Paul's day the covenant between husband and wife was confirmed. The bride's authority extended to that of a full partnership with the husband in a mutual and all important enterprise of bearing and raising their children and governing the marital household. If the Church is the Bride of Christ she is therefore the Steward of His Merits. The Church is the fully endowed spouse of Christ who has by virtue of her ongoing covenant with Him has the authority to distribute the contents of the marital treasury for the sake of her children, i.e. faithful Christians.
Indulgences are an Imputation of Christ's Merits...
1:03:33 - Indulgences therefore are an imputation of Christ's merits. This is what is so ironic about this, this is the one part Catholic soteriology which actually applies in a Protestant sense, that actually does use the idea of imputation. The imputation of Christ's merits on the basis of concessionis, they are attached to your works. It's not that have value that the works earn God's grace, but rather that God through His grace, through the action of His Church is granting you this imputation. This is to encourage the Christian faithful into holiness. It includes reading the Scriptures for at least a half an hour each day; participating during the week in Christian unity and other such things.
Indulgences Do Not Deny the Gospel, They Are an Application of the Gospel!
1:04:22 - So, this is not as James White states, Grace doled out, it is the (on-tick?) power of supernatural life of God, it is the faithful application of the merits of Christ by Christ's Bride to remit temporal punishments and enables communication of spiritual solidarity between Christians so as to foster holiness and purification of the members of His Body. This is NOT contrary to the Gospel, this is an APPLICATION of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and I commend it to you tonight.  Thank you.
As you can see, Part 2 of this debate has Peter D. Williams presenting the Catholic case for indulgences. As one might expect - I believe Peter did an excellent job in this presentation so I have little to add in the way of comments. I would take a moment here though to point out a point I wish Peter had made (maybe he makes it later?) and that is that White has focused so much of his argument on "salvation" and "justification" - and this debate is NOT on those topics! As I pointed out in my responses to Part 1 (James' Opening Statement) indulgences can only be applied to those who ARE saved - those who ARE justified. White is simply barking up a wrong tree when he argues THOSE points in THIS debate.

On to Part 3...

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Indulgences Debate Commentary Part 3


So, we've gone through both debater's Opening Statements, now on to the Rebuttal Phase. James White goes first and begins with his rebuttal of the discussion of the keys...
1:04:50 - While it is still fresh in your minds, please, I wish to just point out the discussion concerning Matthew 16:18-19 and the keys is thoroughly unbiblical it is only traditional. It is first of all the application going back to Isaiah, unknown the first 700 years of the Christian Church, no one ever even came up with it at that point in time. And when you do look at Revelation 3:7 when Jesus does say He holds that very key. He holds it, NOTHING there about delegating it to someone else. Again, it is pure tradition being read back into the Scriptures that is against the apostolic witness of the text itself. If you simply listen to the Apostles you're not going to come up with this idea of the keys. There is nothing there in regards to having that kind of authority whatsoever.
Okay, help me out here... how is a discussion based in biblical verses cited from numerous sources within Scripture "thoroughly unbiblical?" With all due respect, that would be the very definition of a biblical discussion! White is being dismissive here without actually DEALING with the FACTS which Williams brought up.
* As for the use of Isaiah being allegedly unknown for the first 700 years of Christendom...
  • * It was clearly not unknown to Jesus, as He uses the same terminology.
  • * That we don't see others referencing Isaiah 22:22 is an argument from silence, and not a valid one - since Jesus, in fact, did make the reference, though He did not cite Isaiah by name.
  • * Even if true - the fact that no one else cites this during the first 700 years does not make citing it now invalid or irrelevant and thus an actual response - not a dismissal - is in order. 
 * As for Jesus holding "that very key" in Rev. 3:7, Williams already addressed that. Revelation is a eschatological book dealing with the future - not with the past - AND - 
* As Williams also addressed, Jesus did not relinquish the keys/authority - this is still HIS authority. He delegates that authority to Peter's station.* As for "nothing there about delegating..." Um, that is the very purpose of using the analogy of the keys! When you GIVE "the keys" to someone else, YOU ARE DELEGATING!
Back to White...
1:05:38 - Next I wish to address the reality of the confusion that was presented between the consequences of our sins and the idea of temporal punishments; those are not the same things. The consequences of my getting drunk and having a car accident could be my death, my physical injury, the loss of my car, issues regarding other people - but the LEGAL ramifications might have nothing to do with any of those things. The legal ramifications might be my spending a great amount of time in jail or something along those lines. The consequences of my sins are not the same things as the temporal punishments and that was made very plain when, and I'm very thankful that Peter did this, he talked about satispatio. Satispatio is the suffering of atonement that you undergo in Purgatory. That is YOUR suffering, that's not the application of merits of Christ. That's not the application of the merits of Mary or the Saints - that is YOUR suffering. My suffering cannot remove anything that is relevant to the holiness of God. Only Christ can accomplish that. And those punishments are those that have been applied to you by the priest, sacramentally that must be worked through before you can then be cleansed of those temporal punishments and enter into the presence of God.
Again I have to strenuously assert - these "temporal punishments" are NOT "assigned to you by the priest sacramentally" or otherwise. Temporal punishments are due to the SIN itself. White here confuses, I believe, the concept of temporal punishments and the penance a priest gives in the Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka, the Sacrament of Penance). Some or even all the temporal punishment due to sin may be removed through this Sacrament. That any temporal punishment may remain after Confession could be related to your disposition and/or preparation for Confession.

The bigger point here is, after the absolution in the Sacrament of Confession, the confessee walks out a new creation - wholly forgiven and in the state of grace (assuming, of course, it was a valid confession). If he or she were to die at that point, or at any point before committing another mortal sin, they will be in Heaven.  
1:07:05 - Total difference between that and the mere consequences of our sins.
No, really there is no difference! 
  • That you might suffer the consequence of a physical death and while that might seem quite "permanent" - we all know, as Christians, that this life is temporal by its very nature, at least ever since "The Fall." 
  • That you might have the consequence of physical injury is certainly temporal; you will heal - and if you don't, I refer you back to the fact that this whole life/existence is temporal. 
  • That you might have the consequence of the loss of your car - definitely temporal - you can get another car. 
  • Regarding other people, if others were involved, again - there may be temporal punishments imposed upon you by the court for restitution to those people. 
  • As for the consequence of jail time, it is rarely a life sentence for drunk driving - but even if it were, again I refer you back to the fact that EVERYTHING in THIS LIFE is TEMPORAL by the very (fallen) NATURE of this life!
Back to what White is saying...
1:07:10 - We then had a presentation on Purgatory. White mentions he has debated this a number of times, not against Peter but with others. He asks us to look "very, very carefully at what we have in 1 Cor. 3:12-15 is about testing of the nature of their works as ministers...This is not about every single believer standing in some sort of judgment in regard to punishments and punishing and suffering loss in fire in Purgatory. Because you'll notice, 'If any man builds upon this foundation with gold, precious stones, wood, hay straw' obviously two kinds of works that are being done, 'each man's work will become evident for the day will show it.' So it's the same testing, this fire is applied to everybody, not just those who have wood, hay and straw, it's everybody. This isn't, there is nothing here about Purgatory. This is about God testing the quality and nature and motivation of those working in the ministry. The fire itself will test the quality of each man's work, 'if any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward - if any man's work is burned up he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved so as through fire.' There isn't anything about Purgatory here, this is about the judgment of people's works. Nothing about any type of temporal punishments, anything like that at all. It is truly an abuse of 1 Cor. 3 to utilize it in this way."
First off, the objective reader must discount and disagree with what White is saying here. He would like us to just dismiss that this is talking about Purgatory and temporal punishments due to our sinful works (those which are burned up and we "suffer loss"). He would like us to believe that this only applies to ministers in God's Church. Well I've got news for White - we are ALL called to be ministers in the Catholic Church, which IS "God's Church!" We are ALL called to "be ready to give an answer to the hope which is in us," (1 Peter 3:15). And why? Because in doing so we are building upon that Foundation which was laid, which is Christ the Lord. There is no separation of the laity from the clergy in 1 Cor. 3:12-15, no for it says "If ANY MAN builds upon this Foundation..." it says, "if ANY MAN'S work which he has built remains..." and "if ANY MAN'S work is burned up..." (emphasis mine) it does NOT say "if ANY MINISTER'S work..." that would simply be eisegesis on White's part to limit this passage solely to ministers or clergy, separating the works of the laity from any such "building" upon the Foundation.
Secondly, for the sake of argument, even if we grant White that 1 Cor. 3:12-15 is limited only to the clergy, he is GRANTING that it IS a time of purgation of the works of the clergy! Clearly, he has just admitted at LEAST to the existence of a Purgatory for clergy. Again, he apparently ignores the FACT that we are ALL called to be ministers and co-builders upon that Foundation.
Ask yourself, "What part of 'any man's work' is at all limiting to the work(s) of the clergy?"
1:09:00 - Now, did you notice it was about 12 minutes into (Peter's Opening) that we got to anything on indulgences and even then, it was about 5 minutes before the end that we got to a presentation of what indulgences are. But nowhere did we get anything where any Apostle of course uses the term. And of course Peter will say, "No, the Apostles did not use the term," I'm sure he admits that.
On the contrary - Williams OPENS by REPEATING what White has proposed as the definition of the debate that evening, specifically "My opponent has proposed this evening that indulgences are a fundamental denial of the Gospel of Jesus Christ." He then foundationally explains "What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ?" Then, building upon that foundation, he answers "What are indulgences?" So, in fairness, Williams is spot on the topic of this debate which IS specifically about the Gospel of Jesus Christ AND the subject of indulgences. White himself spent a good deal of his Opening Statement on the subject of what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so why the criticism of when and how much time Williams spent on the foundational topics of this debate? 
It is the opinion of this correspondent that White's nit-picking on the timing of and how much time is spent on the subject(s) of this debate is nothing short of a distraction tactic and a personal attack on Williams methodology versus the actual substance of what he stated.
1:09:23 - What about the concept? Where does this appear in apostolic teaching about sanctification, for example?
This is a distraction from the question which this debate is to answer! The debate is NOT about whether or not indulgences are of apostolic origin - but rather - the topic of this debate is specific to whether or not indulgences are contrary to the Gospel. The very title on White's YouTube page is "Do Indulgences Deny the Gospel?" Please do not get caught up in White's distraction tactics.
1:09:30 - We had much said about what Christ accomplished, but when we look at what Christ accomplishes in Hebrews chapter 7, I would simply just remind you of what the apostolic witness truly is at this point.
And again I point out - this debate is NOT about the apostolic witness! THIS debate is about whether or not indulgences are contrary (or deny) the Gospel of Jesus Christ. White continues...
1:09:43 - But Jesus, in contrast with the Old Testament priests, on the other hand because He continues forever - holds His priesthood permanently, without successor, 
Let's stop right there for a moment... there is NO mention of successor, much less the words "without successor" in Hebrews 7. That Jesus is "a priest forever" is not denied in the apostolic succession of bishops in the Catholic Church - but again, this is yet another distraction White has inserted into the mix. So, with that, let us continue...
...therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost. Or, forever or completely, pantelis. He has the capacity to fully and completely save those who draw near to God through Him, why? Because He establishes a church that a thousand years later establishes something called Purgatory and indulgences and all the things like this to help you get to heaven easier? No, that's not what it says. Since He always lives to make intercession for them. We have an intercessor before the throne, not a treasury of merit; and that intercessor is able to save to the uttermost and completely. As He said, the lamb standing as if slain. 
And again, this debate is NOT about whether or not Jesus is our Intercessor before the throne! Certainly He has interceded for us and has won our redemption - our salvation - but this does not answer the question of THIS DEBATE! Do indulgences deny that Jesus is our intercessor, our Redeemer, our Salvation? No! And I repeat - indulgences are NOT about salvation or redemption, they are ONLY applied to those who HAVE BEEN redeemed and/or ARE saved. There is NO denial of the Gospel message here.
He stands and yet His being slain is a finished reality. That is the Lamb (which) is available to every believer in Jesus Christ. That is who He is. He always lives to make intercession for them. And my friends, is more than enough. Do not dare to add anything to it. Do not dare to add anything to what He has provided. You look at Hebrews 9:24, He has entered into the holy place having done what? Having contributed His excess merit to a treasury of merit that will then have the merits of Mary and of Saints put into it? And then that can be deposited to your account to make it easier to get into Heaven? No! Having obtained eternal redemption He enters into that holy place and that's why He's offered once. You see if we really wanted to lay the foundation of what is between Peter and I, it is that I have the finished work of Christ that perfects those for whom it is made and Rome's doctrine of the Mass fundamentally denies that. Jesus Christ is, His death is re-presented over and over and over again in a non-bloody fashion, but a propitiatory fashion upon the alter of the Roman Church. There is no finished work upon which you can fully understand how we can have Christ's perfect righteousness.  There is a fundamental Gospel difference between us.
This debate is NOT about the propitiatory nature of the Mass. This debate is NOT about whether or not Jesus has obtained our redemption - we agree with White on this, Jesus DID obtain our redemption! Yes, that IS the Gospel message - but the question of THIS debate asks do indulgences deny that Gospel message - and the simple answer is NO! They do not deny the Gospel.
1:12:13 - Now I only have two and a half minutes, but Peter just gave us a wonderful and as I fully expected, an historical, Trentian talk. Peter, you were born in the wrong century. Ok, you would have looked good with a miter on, and you probably would have been in the Inquisition and we probably would not be having this friendly discussion. So, but here is the problem, Peter lives today and what he presented to us is a(n) historical view that would very, very well with the popes, up until recently.
And off we go into another distraction! I'm beginning to sound like a broken record (for those who remember "records") in repeating the mantra of what this debate is about. This debate is NOT about what century Peter Williams lives in; it is NOT about how good Williams would look with a miter on and it is NOT about the Inquisition! This debate is NOT about the historical view of the popes and certainly has nothing to do with recent popes. This debate asks ONE question, "Do indulgences deny the Gospel?" And again, the answer is NO! 
1:12:52 - But you may have watched recently, the current pope... now this isn't an official dogma changing anything, but it does represent what he believes and he's choosing the cardinals in the Church and he's interpreting these things and you may have seen the touching scene of him talking to this young boy whose daddy had died. Did you see it? If you saw it, you know what happened. His daddy died as an atheist. His daddy didn't believe God exists. And so he asked the Pope, where is my dad? Did he go to hell? And the Pope's response was very clear.  The young boy said, "he had us baptized!  Even though he was an atheist, he had us baptized."  And the Pope says, "Isn't that the kind of person that God wants in His presence? Would He turn away one of His children who has done something like that?" And he gave that young boy assurance based upon that. No pope up until the last century would have ever said such a thing, or done such a thing. Oh, it feels real good to say things like that but the reality is the Scripture says "that without faith it is impossible to please God and that the one coming to Him must believe that He is and He is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. The inspired Scripture says it is impossible.  Now, here's the problem. Can't get into all the epistemology, but Peter is not the Bishop of Rome, and only the Bishop of Rome gets to define Catholic teaching. He does so in many ways. Practical ways, official ways and by and through the Magisterium. And so the real question is this, twenty-five years from now, thirty years from now, will indulgences still be taught in the way that Peter explained them tonight? I can guarantee you one thing, that as long as you stand upon the apostolic witness of Scripture, what I've said to you tonight about your relationship with Jesus Christ will be exactly the same fifty years from now and a hundred years from now - that's our firm foundation. Thank you very much. (1:14:50)
And again I point out to you reading this - White has gone off-topic. This debate is NOT about what Pope Francis might think, say or do. This debate is NOT about whether or not a little boy's unbelieving father is in Heaven or Hell. This debate is NOT about speculation on whether or not indulgences will be taught the same way in which Williams taught it that night. No! This debate is specifically asking "Do Indulgences Deny the Gospel?" And all of James White's diversions do NOT answer that question! Peter answers it!  I answer it!  The Gospel is about salvation and indulgences deal with those who are ALREADY SAVED, so NO! Indulgences do NOT deny the Gospel. THAT is the topic and answer to this debate.

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Indulgences Debate Commentary Part 4


Next we have Peter D. Williams ten minute rebuttal...
1:15:00 - One of the things he (James White) brought up was the idea of development. This isn't something which was apostolic it wasn't something applied by the Apostles; I admit it, it wasn't - quite right. And? Your point is? 
While I would agree, there is some development going on here, but as I have already pointed out, this indeed WAS something applied by the Apostles AND we have scriptural references to Purgatory AND to praying for family, friends and/or other loved ones who have gone before us. This is also part of the "communion of saints" which most Christian communities actually confess as part of the Nicene and Apostle's Creeds!
1:15:20 - I've got no problem with the idea of development and neither indeed did St. Vincent of Lerins. St. Vincent of Lerins said this in AD 445, "Is there to be no development in religion in the Church of Christ? Certainly there is to be development, and on the largest scale. Why can we be so grudging to men, so full of hate for God as to try to prevent it? But it must be true to be development of the faith not alteration of the faith. Development means that each thing expands to be itself, while alteration means that a thing is changed from one thing to another." So you do see the difference here between mutatative change; the kind of thing which states, "OK, we're going to completely reverse our teaching, or we're going to add something completely new," as opposed to organic change. Now, what I've pointed out, what I've proved, in my opening presentation was that when you go into the roots of these concepts... we go into temporal punishments, when we go into Purgatory, when we go into the idea of merit, when we go into the Precious Blood of Christ and how that works - what do we find? We find that all of these teachings coming together, as a matrix, are a legitimate development of or literally developed into the idea of indulgences. We all do development. 
And, of course, Mr. Williams and I agree on this. Development does not deny the Gospel so long as it is "organic change" and not "mutatative change." Williams is also driving the point home that we, Catholics, do not confess that indulgences add to the finished work of Christ on the Cross - rather they are the application of Christ's finished work on the Cross.
1:16:28 - Homoousios, which is a christological term used at the Council of Nicea, the idea of Christ being of one substance with the Father. That was originally a Gnostic term which was appropriated by Christians as they used Aristotlian terminology to express in a systematic way what the data of Scripture expressed. But it was a development. And so we all do development, regardless if we like it or not. 
Taking this a bit further - homoousios is not a scriptural term - you won't find it anywhere in Scripture. The term is a result of development and became part of the official Catholic teaching in the early 4th century.
1:16:51 - Quoting further from St. Vincent, "The understanding, knowledge and wisdom of one and all, with individuals as well as the whole Church ought then to make great and vigorous progress with passing of the ages and the centuries. But only along its own line of development, that is with the same doctrine, the same meaning and the same import. The religion of souls should follow the law of development of bodies. Though bodies develop and unfold in their component parts through the passing of the years, they always remain what they were. There is a great difference between the flower of childhood and the maturity of age, but those who become old are the very same people who were once young. Though the condition and appearance of the individual may change it is one and the same nature, one and the same person. The tiny members of unweened children, the grown members of grown men are still the same members. Men have the same number of limbs as children. What ever developed at a later age was already present in embryo. There is nothing new in old age that was not already latent." That is exactly what we see with the doctrine of indulgences. And what this shows, this passage from St. Vincent, other than the fact that St. Vincent of Lerins in the (5th) century knew much had a far better grasp of elementary biology than the average abortion advocate or indeed 42.8% of the Irish electorate south of the border, just saying, is the doctrine of development is not a concept invented by Blessed John (Cardinal) Henry Newman as a post-factor rationalization or as an afterthought to justify what he wanted. It is an ancient recognition of the necessary and authentic organic maturity of the Faith of Christ. 
Again, and I'm sure no one is surprized - Williams and I are in agreement here. Development from embryonic doctrine does not mean the doctrine itself fundamentally changed. What it "matures" to is still essentially the same.
1:18:14 - It is in stark contrast to what we have to do in Protestant theology which is a kind of archeological, a rationalistic archeologist in which you take the Holy Scriptures and you try to take the necessary limited data of the New Testament and to artificially reconstruct supposedly purely and more original apostolic model of the Christian faith and practice. It's shear folly, it's shear folly for no other reason than sola scriptura, as a doctrine, which is presupposed by James (White) has to be - can't work. Now I'm going to use the example I've used in every single debate we've had thus far I think, because it is important for everyone to know and to realize when we're discussing any of these questions which is the problem of the canon.
While again, I am in agreement with Williams here, the debate is not on sola scriptura. I can see how he's using sola scriptura to demonstrate a mutatative change since sola scriptura is unheard of in the Early Church and while Latin is the common language of the Roman and Holy Roman Empire, you do not find those Latin words used together until about the time Protestantism arose. The same can be said of sola fide, and especially there since the ONLY time those two words are used together in Scripture is in NEGATION of the concept of sola fide! (James 2:24). But again, while both those concepts (foundational to Protestant doctrine) are great examples of mutatative change - neither topic is the topic of this debate and thus can be seen as diversionary (much like White bringing up the subject of the Holy Mass).
1:18:56 - The problem with the canon is that the canon constitutes the contents of your Bible. OK, everything from Genesis... all the way through the Book of the Apocolypse (Revelation). Now that is a necessary and essential truth of the Gospel and sola scriptura, the doctrine of Scripture alone, the concept on which Protestant theology is based, that Scripture alone is sufficient, is the sole, sufficient, infallible rule of faith because it is able to give all the necessary and essential truths of the Christian faith.  Well, is the canon a necessary and essential truth?  Yeah! Because if you have the Scriptures and the Scriptures are your sole and infallible rule of faith, well you need to know what they are. So, if you need the Scriptures... then you need to know what the Scriptures are. But guess what? There's no inspired table of contents page, there's no golden index, there's nothing in Scripture which tells you what Scripture is. So consequently the canon disproves the idea of there being the sufficiency of Scripture.  
And again, we (Williams and I) agree on the matter of the Scriptures not containing a so-called "inspired table of contents" - leaving someone whose basis is "Scripture Alone" with a lot of unfinished business - but again, not really the subject of this debate.
1:19:51 - Now I realize of course that Anglicans and Presbyterians don't agree on sola scriptura, or Reformed Baptists in fact, so you've got the Anglican idea is that all things that you need for salvation and the Presbyterians believe that it's everything relating to man's salvation, faith, life and God's glory; and you've got the idea within the London Baptist Confession of Faith that it's all saving knowledge and obedience... you know so it's not exactly clear what Scripture is to be sufficient for. Nonetheless, even if you think it's just salvation, again if you need the Scriptures to know what you need to know to be saved then you need to know what the Scriptures are in order to know what you what you need to be saved.  You don't get out of it either way. So there we go. If Scripture is sufficient it should give us all the data and revelation (that) Holy Scripture is necessary; if Scripture is necessary then the knowledge of what is Holy Scripture is also necessary therefore if Holy Scripture is sufficient then it should be able to give us a knowledge of what Holy Scripture is. Holy Scripture, however, cannot give us itself - it cannot give us the canon, therefore by definition it is insufficient.
I am beginning to sound like a broken record here - but I must say it - a LOT of time during this ten minute rebuttal is spent on sola scriptura and the fundamental problems Protestants have with each of those topics - but THIS debate is supposed to be focused on the matter of indulgences and whether or not the practice/doctrine denies the Gospel message. Williams does a great job with these other topics, but if I were moderating that debate - I believe I would have been compelled to interrupt him and call him back to the topic at hand.
1:20:55 - What we have instead is a reality within Christian history is Scripture (and) tradition that is to say that which is those that are passed on outside and then the development of both Scripture and tradition together within the Magisterium of the Church. 
OK, Williams is beginning to pull himself back into the topic...
1:21:08 - The whole point with indulgences is that indulgences are a development but they are a development which is based fundamentally on premises found within Holy Scripture and within Sacred Tradition and that development is by no means illegitimate. It is an entirely necessary part of Christian revelation.
Now, while again I agree with Williams here - I would like to have seen him present the scriptural premises listed here as opposed to the discussion on sola scriptura and the canon. To borrow a little from Catholic Answers:
When someone repents, God removes his guilt (Is. 1:18) and any eternal punishment (Rom. 5:9), but temporal penalties may remain. One passage demonstrating this is 2 Samuel 12, in which Nathan the prophet confronts David over his adultery:

"Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan answered David: ‘The Lord on his part has forgiven your sin; you shall not die. But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die’" (2 Sam. 12:13-14). God forgave David but David still had to suffer the loss of his son as well as other temporal punishments (2 Sam. 12:7-12). (For other examples, see: Numbers 14:13-23; 20:12; 27:12-14.) 

https://www.catholic.com/tract/primer-on-indulgences 
I recommend reading through that whole article. 
1:21:26 - Now we've heard further that really... I'm going to go into some of the arguments which were introduced in the beginning statements as well... The idea of indulgences is contrary to solas christus it detracts from because it adds to the perfect finished work of Christ because He is the propitiation for us by His blood. Well, as we've seen, the Atonement was not about taking punishment or removing temporal punishments; even if that were not the case, that Christendom confuses/conflates, again, the efficient and meritorious causes of our salvation with the instrumental cause that we gain from the meritorious cause. The efficient meritorious cause is still God, by His Grace, merited by Christ. The instrumental cause is merely indulgences on our appropriation of them which applies the merits of Christ, imputes the merits of Christ to take away temporal punishments which is not a matter of salvation it is a matter of part of what we go through in the process of sanctification. There's no addition to the perfect work of Christ in the Thesaurus Meritorum. The merits of the Saints are the merits of Christ! Indulgences are an application of the merits of Christ. 
And THIS is the point I'd like to see more of from Williams! While he does make the point, and he makes it well when he does - side topics also leave room for ones opponent to go off on those tangents and thus detracting from the effectiveness of the REAL message here - which again, Williams DOES make - and White loses on this point alone. Indulgences are the APPLICATION of the merit of Christ - not a replacement or an addition to His finished work on the Cross. White constantly confused/conflated the topic of indulgences with salvation.
1:22:25 - Hebrews 7 tells me absolutely nothing because it is fundamentally always based on the idea that Christ is the sole meritorious cause. I'm not going to go into all the arguments he (White) made on the Holy Mass, that is not the subject of our debate, even though I am very happy to have it at a different date, but there is nothing within the doctrine of the Holy Mass which contradicts the idea that Christ is our sole meritorious cause.
And as I implied earlier, White would be quite within his rights to say the same thing about Williams discussion of sola scriptura and the canon.
1:22:50 - (Brings out a pamphlet from the Confraternity of the Precious Blood which is Victorian in origin, within the booklet it says...) "There is no spiritual blessing, be it grace on Earth or the Beatific Vision in Heaven which is not purchased for us by the blood of Jesus. If we are redeemed as captives saved from the power of Hell; if our sins are pardoned and we are reconciled to God it is only because our souls are washed in that life-giving stream. There is no remission of sin or the penalty due to our guilt, no pardon, whether it be given to us by the Sacrament (of Confession) or through an indulgence, which is not, as it were, an infusion of the Precious Blood. It nourishes us in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist; it pursues us after death into the very flames of Purgatory.
Yes!  More like THIS please!  This PROVES the doctrine on indulgences does NOT deny the Gospel!  Williams wins this debate on THIS point!
1:24:00 - (Takes out a 'Handbook on Indulgences' which tells us the actions we may engage in to gain us an indulgence, whether it be plenary or partial).  There are set prayers or exhortations to God to fulfill Paul's admonition to pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17). One of these short exhortations is simply "amor te" or "I love Thee" or "I hope in Thee" or "I believe in Thee" to Jesus, and this is one of them: "O crux, ave spes unica" "O Cross, hail our only hope." Not another hope, not a basic hope, but we got some other hopes, no, the Cross is our ONLY hope. THAT is the confession of the Catholic Church; that is the confession which is the fundamental foundation of the practice of indulgences - and anything which says otherwise is fundamentally a false one. Thank you.
Yes! Yet another affirmation that the teaching on indulgences does NOT deny the Gospel! Regardless of any spin White would want to put on this - in OUR OWN WORDS it is clear that indulgences do NOT deny the Gospel!

1:25:03 - Begins the direct cross-examination phase - I will hold off on this part for now, unless there is interest in me going through all that plus questions from the audience (another hour and twenty minutes).

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