Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Challenging William Webster

In the article by Mary Ann Collins which Candy recently posted, the primary source for information was a book called The Church of Rome at the Bar of History by William Webster. Although Mary Ann Collins says in the article that "primary sources about Catholic doctrines and history come from the Catholic Church" this book is not written by a Catholic, but by a former Catholic.

She mentions several times in her article that she recommends recourses which are "respectful and gentle" in their approach. I appreciate that, in this article at least, some of the wilder anti-Catholic claims do not appear. William Webster is certainly a better alternative to Dave Hunt and Jack Chick.

William Webster is a former Catholic who converted to Evangelical Christianity. Since that time, he has written quite a lot about Catholicism, and he has come to the attention of Catholic apologists.

Stephen Ray, who is himself a convert TO Catholicism, has gotten into a sort of convert vs. convert battle of words with Webster. In his book, Upon This Rock, Ray challenges Webster's book and charges Webster with selective editing.

I wrote to William Webster and asked him if he knew of any Church Father who denied the primacy of Peter or of his successors. Mr. Webster's response was very telling, and I wish he had been forthright about this matter in his book. His return E-mail stated, "No father denies that Peter had a primacy or that there is a Petrine succession. The issue is how the fathers interpreted those concepts. They simply did not hold to the Roman Catholic view of later centuries that primacy and succession were 'exclusively' related to the bishops of Rome." [2] What an extraordinary admission; what an extraordinary truth. Many of the Fathers were in theological or disciplinary disagreement with Rome (for example, Cyprian and Irenaeus), yet they never denied Rome's primacy. They may have debated what that primacy meant, or how it was to work out in the universal Church, but they never denied the primacy.

Webster then wrote an article, refuting Ray's book. Ray now has a 17 part debate with Webster on the issue of papal primacy on his website. At this point, Dave Armstrong (another convert to Catholicism) weighs in with two different articles refuting William Webster.

One article which Webster wrote was regarding the development of the Bible canon, which the Catholic Monarchist responds to here:

As the article continues, Webster displays a most serious ignorance when it comes to the use of the terms "canonical" and "non-canonical." He makes use of quote after quote of church figures in the act of explaining that the deuterocanonical books are "noncanonical," supposedly to prove that they were not considered part of the Bible, but the reader can distinguish for himself what the terms actually mean, because Webster helpfully gives him the definition in this quote from one Cardinal Cajetan:
Now, according to his judgment, in the epistle to the bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, these books (and any other like books in the canon of the bible) are not canonical, that is, not in the nature of a rule for confirming matters of faith. Yet, they may be called canonical, that is, in the nature of a rule for the edification of the faithful, as being received and authorised in the canon of the bible for that purpose.
The Cardinal has explained it: Non-canonical doesn't mean "not in the Bible." It means "not confirming matters of faith." By this rule, of course Tobit and Judith and such are not canonical. But look at what he says a breath before the definition: "and any other like books in the canon of the Bible." So he has just called them canonical BEFORE calling them non-canonical--which means that he does NOT mean they are not to be included, but rather that they do not confirm the faith.
John Betts writes about the same article on his website, but from a different angle.

Another article, on Sola Scriptura and the Early Church is tackled by the American Catholic Truth Society.

While Mary Ann Collins does quote from it, William Webster wrote another book with David King titled Holy Scripture: Ground and Pillar of Our Faith. Phil Porvaznik writes about the misrepresentations in it here.

There are lots of resources available about William Webster, but this is plenty to get you started.

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changing4him said...
Fyi, sweety.

kritterc said...

Dear Changing for Him - I don't think this is the same Mary Ann Collins that Candy keeps referring to. The one on the website you posted is still a nun today. Did you listen to any of the podcasts or have you read any of her writings? Correct me if I am wrong, please, and I will stand corrected.

Elena said...

Ummm.... this Mary Ann Collins is not a former nun. And she seems to be a practicing Catholic. So I guess I'm not getting your point changing4him

Elena said...

I listened to a pod cast. It was a nice talk about seeing Jesus around us. Not anti-Catholic at all. In fact it's a Dominican site. Unless Candy's Mary Ann Collins saw the error of her ways, came back to her Catholic faith and entered the convent to take final vows this time, this isn't her. This is a different Mary Ann Collins. FYI sweety.

Kelly said...

I posted on Candy's site as well, but I don't know if she will post it.

Anyway, I just said what kritterc and Elena said, basically. I would think it is a common name for women of that generation. I know my mother has several friends named Mary Ann, and Collins is a common last name.

Robin said...

I believe Candy was referring this man concerning Waldenses. Here's a good website with quite a bit of information where people get mislead:

Take care!

Kelly said...

Those are the same people I thought she was referring to. I didn't realize that was a valid alternative spelling. I thought she had just misspelled their name.

Thanks for the link. I was looking for that information last night, but couldn't find it. I'm sure she would have based her idea of them on Dave Hunt.

I did notice that she didn't reply to that message, but then, she didn't post it until after the Meez party.

Joy said...

I thought Mary Ann Collin's book recommendation of "The Gospel According to Rome by James G. McCarthy" was interesting. After studying Catholicism for a year or so, my husband and I went to a Presbyterian bookstore in our town. Our objective was to find a book that would "disprove" any major doctrine of the RC. We were desperate to find that the RC was wrong so we wouldn't have to make this hard decision. We picked this particular bookstore because of the knowledgeable staff and asked for their best book on why Roman Catholicism was wrong. This book by McCarthy was the one they recommended.

Needless to say, it wasn't convincing :-)