[originally posted on 16 January 2001, from correspondence dated 10 January 2001]
This discussion came about as a result of the brief “live chat” of 29 December 2000 between Dave Armstrong and Bishop White, in the latter’s IRC chat room. The Bishop objected to my statement in the footnotes to that chat, concerning bishops and the status of that office among Baptists (see below). Vigorous disputation then followed, which is reproduced here, unedited. Bishop White’s words will be in blue.
Thanks for your letter. And you can call me “Dave” if you like . . . I was planning on doing other things tonight (no such luck), but here I am. This will make a good paper for my website itself, though, so I thank you for the opportunity to strengthen my case even further (just as you did on December 29th :-). Oh, by the way, that was a funny line about Anselm not being a “father.” I missed it at the time (in your whirlwind of questions fired at me), but I much appreciated the humor, reading it later.
I was sent a link to your highly annotated version of the online discussion. I found what little I read of it fascinating.
I’m glad you liked it. If you had read all of it, perhaps you could have experienced even more enjoyment and fascination (I love to spread joy whenever I can)! And when you start reading my papers completely, then I will read your books from beginning to end, too. But given our unfortunate personal history (which I have taken great pains to try and rectify), I suppose I should be thankful that you read my papers at all, even partially. That matter aside, I do understand being busy, though, believe me. We all struggle with that annoying fact of life.
I especially found this most interesting:
Dr. White, being a Baptist, of course doesn’t believe in bishops, which is strange, seeing that it is an explicit biblical office. He can hardly call this an extra-biblical” idea. Why, then, does his affiliation expunge it? Perhaps, then, we should invent the term “sub-biblical” or “anti-biblical” to describe the myriad subtractions and omissions of various Protestant Christianities?
It is difficult not to laugh out loud at such an absurd paragraph.
Feel free! Laughing is good for you. I’ve often laughed about your words and various logical and biblical absurdities as well, so that would just make us even. :-)
If I wrote, “Roman Catholicism rejects the office of pastor, and replaces it with priests and stuff,” you would have reason to laugh, since such would demonstrate my ignorance of Roman theology. If you were concerned about accuracy on any level, you would know something about a topic before addressing it.
Aw, c’mon James. I thought we were (at long last) progressing in the civility of our discussion. I was even encouraged. Let’s not digress at this late hour. You know full well what I meant, and you are also well-acquainted, I’m sure, with the debates over Church government, which are not (as always) by any means confined solely to the Catholic vs. Protestant debate. There are serious definitional disputes as to bishop, and it is not “ignorant” of me to simply hold to a different definition than you do, as if this is unheard-of. Do you say R.C. Sproul is “absurd” or lacks “accuracy on any level” because he espouses infant baptism, over against your view which (also by definition) would regard that as anathema? Of course not. But I am a lowly “Roman” . . .
We can be sure that if you were addressing an Anglican or certain types of Lutherans (who accept bishops more or less in my definition) that you would not sling around such polemical and disparaging language (despite your disdain for them as lowly Arminians). Besides, you do the same thing I do: for example, you have certain ideas and definitions of what is “biblical” and “extra-biblical,” with which I would disagree (and I explored that a bit in my commentary on the live chat).
You would disagree with John Calvin (correct me if I am wrong) as to the appropriateness of the term sacrament, with regard to baptism and the Eucharist (in my experience, Baptists use the word ordinance — which has a different meaning). This is a definitional dispute. Etc., etc. If I remember correctly, we had a run-in about that in our lengthy 1995 exchange, with you writing something to the effect of “sacraments replace the grace of God” (I can get the exact quote later).
In critiquing your ecclesiology I don’t have to resort to the ubiquitous claims of lack of “accuracy” and sheer ignorance. I simply argue that you are mistaken, without all the highly charged ad hominem baggage and assaults on credibility and intellectual honesty, etc. It takes all the fun out of good dialogue. Can’t we get beyond that? I remember in our long postal “exchange” (since you deny that it was a debate), that you more or less scornfully scoffed at my claim that the Jehovah’s Witnesses believed that God the Father (their “Jehovah”) had a body. Then I produced the citation from one of their writings. But of course, I didn’t hear back from you because you never responded to my final (in my opinion, devastating), 36-page installment. That is merely one example of my alleged “inaccuracy” and your vaunted “accuracy.”
The fact remains that, according to historic Christianity, from the second century onwards (even according to historians who reject the concept, such as Philip Schaff and the Baptist Kenneth Scott Latourette), there is such a thing as an episcopacy (NT Gk. episkopos = bishop, for the sake of others who may read this) and apostolic succession, as the prevailing mode of ecclesiology. You can’t possibly deny that. I won’t bother to document this here. I can’t imagine any legitimate historian (even a Baptist successionist) who would deny it. Facts is facts.
Obviously, Baptists, Anabaptists, Churches of Christ, other non-denominational Protestant groups with congregational government, and suchlike, deny apostolic succession and episcopacy (in the historic and patristic sense of those terms), but that doesn’t undermine the fact that this institution existed very early on (I say from the beginning) and that it was well-attested by such early fathers as St. Clement, St. Ignatius, and St. Irenaeus.
The Encyclopedia Britannica (1985 edition, “episcopacy”), for example, asserts (italics added):
. . . The origins of episcopacy are obscure, but by the 2nd century AD it was becoming established in the main centres of Christianity. It was closely tied to the idea of apostolic succession, the belief that bishops can trace their office in a direct, uninterrupted line back to the Apostles and Jesus . . .During the Reformation in the 16th century, episcopacy was repudiated by many Protestant churches, partly on the grounds of its corruption but also because many believed the system was not based on the New Testament. The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, Old Catholic, Swedish Lutheran, and some other churches have the episcopal form of church government . . .
Now (assuming the factuality of the above, as I do), if you can contend (from your premise of sola Scriptura) that episcopacy in the traditional sense is unbibical and not found in the New Testament (or if you define it differently, on the same biblical grounds), why cannot I say (from my premise of apostolic succession and a flow and consistency of Church history, and much biblical support which I will produce below) that certain Protestants (including Baptists, or their forerunners, at any rate) “repudiated” it at the so-called Reformation?
Both points of view are interpretations of the above historical and ecclesiological data, and both are valid from within their own paradigms. One can dispute the definitional and ecclesiological premises if they wish. But I was not misrepresenting anything, because I use the traditional definition of bishop (which was far more common historically — and still the view of the vast majority of Christians today –, than your view). Could I have communicated my thought better? Of course (that’s always true), but then, I am clarifying now (again, I thank you for the opportunity) and can easily create a link to this from that portion of the notes, for those readers who care enough to pursue the issue. Ah, the wonders of HTML links!
Likewise, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (2nd edition, edited by Cross and Livingstone, Oxford Univ. Press, 1983, “Bishop,” p. 176) agrees (italics added):
. . . for St. Ignatius (early 2nd cent.), Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons were already quite distinct . . . By the middle of the 2nd cent. all the leading centres of Christianity would appear to have had their Bishops, and from then until the Reformation, Christianity was everywhere organized on an episcopal basis.
As for apostolic succession, the same work states (p. 76, “Apostolic Succession”):
The fact of the succession of the ministry from the apostles, and of the apostles from Christ, was strongly emphasized by Clement of Rome before the end of the 1st cent.; and the necessity for it has been very widely taught within the historic Church.
How can we Catholics possibly accept such outrageous “late inventions”!!????? The late first century, huh? . . . lessee, that’s, um, more than 267 years before someone (St. Athanasius) finally figured out the precise 27 books of the New Testament. Yet, for you, the NT canon is an unquestioned axiom, while historic episcopacy is an unbiblical outrage. It’s a strange world we live in.
You claim it is “extra-biblical”? In the same 2nd century which saw a rapid development of episcopacy (which even its enemies confirm), the NT canon was far from complete or known. Yet there was still this ethereal, necessarily tradition-bound thing called “Christianity,” operating quite well despite the impossibility of this “historical entity” of the 2nd century being grounded on any notion of sola Scriptura, as we know and love it today.
Good ole J.N.D. Kelly (Early Christian Doctrines, San Francisco: Harper, rev. 1978) confirms many of my arguments as well: he states that St. Ignatius “seems to suggest that the Roman church occupies a special position” (p. 191; section: “The Beginnings of Ecclesiology”). He generalizes:
What these early fathers were envisaging was almost always the empirical, visible society; they had little or no inkling of the distinction which was later to become important between a visible and an invisible Church . . . . For the fuller development of the theory of the invisible, pre-existent Church we have to look to Valentinian Gnosticism. (p. 191)
As to St. Irenaeus’ ecclesiological views:
. . . the identity of oral tradition with the original revelation is guaranteed by the unbroken succession of bishops in the great sees going back lineally to the apostles [Against Heresies, 3, 2, 2; 3, 3, 3; 3, 4, 1] . . . Indeed, the Church’s bishops are on his view Spirit-endowed men who have been vouchsafed ‘an infallible charism of truth’ (charisma veritatis certum) [ibid., 4, 26, 2; cf. 4, 26, 5]. (p. 37)
If I am so “laughably” wrong on this point, then I am in very good (Reformed) company, to some extent. Baptist theologian Augustus Strong railed against John Calvin himself (for his “objection to the identity of the presbyter and the bishop . . . on the ground of 1 Tim 5:17”) in terms reminiscent of much of your polemic, when one disagrees with you. In his Systematic Theology (Westwood, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1907, rep. 1967, p. 915), Strong approvingly cites one Dexter and his book Congregationalism (p. 52):
Calvin was a natural aristocrat, not a man of the people like Luther . . . He believed in authority and loved to exercise it. He could easily have been a despot . . . He resolved church discipline into police control. He confessed that the eldership was an expedient to which he was driven by circumstances, though after creating it he naturally enough endeavored to procure Scriptural proof in its favor.
So once again, we find that honest disagreement must lead to the usual personal attacks and aspersions upon motives. Calvin was (we are told) a despot, and came to his ecclesiology based on expedience rather than biblical proof. This is a rare occasion when I can empathize with Calvin! LOL
And this was a relatively minor dispute. Calvin was not exactly a flaming advocate of episcopacy! He begrudgingly acknowledged the historic episcopacy (including patriarchs and archbishops, synods and general councils), claiming that it was “connected with the maintenance of discipline” (Inst., IV, iv, 4). But of course he denies that this was a “hierarchy.” He does admit, however, that:
. . . the ancient bishops did not intend to fashion any other form of church rule than that which God has laid down in his Word.
Well, if the above scenario was the “intention” of these bishops, then it is certainly a form of government well in accord with that of Catholicism as I know and understand it (and far from both Baptist and present Reformed ecclesiology).
Biblically speaking, sir, the offices of bishop, overseer, elder, or pastor, are one. There is no differentiation between them in the relevant NT passages. I am an elder in the church: hence, I am a bishop, overseer, pastor, of a local body of believers, the Phoenix Reformed Baptist Church (www.prbc.org).
So you say. Contrary to your assertions of my woeful and inexcusable ignorance, I indeed dealt with this very topic in great depth some five years ago:
The New Testament refers basically to three types of permanent offices in the Church (Apostles and Prophets were to cease): bishops (episkopos), elders (presbyteros, from which are derived Presbyterian and priest), and deacons (diakonos). Bishops are mentioned in Acts 1:20, 20:28, Philippians 1:1, 1 Timothy 3:1-2, Titus 1:7, and 1 Peter 2:25. Presbyteros (usually elder) appears in passages such as Acts 15:2-6, 21:18, Hebrews 11:2, 1 Peter 5:1, and 1 Timothy 5:17. Protestants view these leaders as analogous to current-day pastors, while Catholics regard them as priests. Deacons (often, minister in English translations) are mentioned in the same fashion as Christian elders with similar frequency (for example, 1 Corinthians 3:5, Philippians 1:1, 1 Thessalonians 3:2, 1 Timothy 3:8-13).As is often the case in theology and practice among the earliest Christians, there is some fluidity and overlapping of these three vocations (for example, compare Acts 20:17 with 20:28; 1 Timothy 3:1-7 with Titus 1:5-9). But this doesn’t prove that three offices of ministry did not exist. For instance, St. Paul often referred to himself as a deacon or minister (1 Corinthians 3:5, 4:1, 2 Corinthians 3:6, 6:4, 11:23, Ephesians 3:7, Colossians1:23-25), yet no one would assert that he was merely a deacon, and nothing else. Likewise, St. Peter calls himself a fellow elder (1 Peter 5:1), whereas Jesus calls him the rock upon which He would build His Church, and gave him alone the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 16:18-19). These examples are usually indicative of a healthy humility, according to Christ’s injunctions of servanthood (Matthew 23:11-12, Mark 10:43-44).
Upon closer observation, clear distinctions of office appear, and the hierarchical nature of Church government in the New Testament emerges. Bishops are always referred to in the singular, while elders are usually mentioned plurally. The primary controversy among Christians has to do with the nature and functions of both bishops and elders (deacons have largely the same duties among both Protestants and Catholics).Catholics contend that the elders/presbyters in Scripture carry out all the functions of the Catholic priest:
- 1) Sent and Commissioned by Jesus (the notion of being called): Mark 6:7, John 15:5, 20:21, Romans 10:15, 2 Corinthians 5:20.
- 2) Representatives of Jesus: Luke 10:16, John 13:20.
- 3) Authority to “Bind” and “Loose” (Penance and Absolution): Matthew 18:18 (compare Matthew 16:19).
- 4) Power to Forgive Sins in Jesus’ Name: Luke 24:47, John 20:21-23, 2 Corinthians 2:5-11, James 5:15.
- 5) Authority to Administer Penance: Acts 5:2-11, 1 Corinthians 5:3-13, 2 Corinthians 5:18, 1 Timothy 1:18-20, Titus 3:10.
- 6) Power to Conduct the Eucharist: Luke 22:19, Acts 2:42 (compare Luke 24:35, Acts 2:46, 20:7, 1 Corinthians 10:16).
- 7) Dispense Sacraments: 1 Corinthians 4:1, James 5:13-15.
- 8) Perform Baptisms: Matthew 28:19, Acts 2:38,41.
- 9) Ordained: Acts 14:23, 1 Timothy 4:14, 5:23.
- 10) Pastors (Shepherds): Acts 20:17,28, Ephesians 4:11, 1 Peter 5:1-4.
- 11) Preach and Teach: 1 Timothy 3:1-2, 5:17.
- 12) Evangelize: Matthew 16:15, 28:19-20, Mark 3:14, Luke 9:2,6, 24:47, Acts 1:8.
- 13) Heal: Matthew 10:1, Luke 9:1-2,6.
- 14) Cast Out Demons: Matthew 10:1, Mark 3:15, Luke 9:1.
- 15) Hear Confessions: Acts 19:18 (compare Matthew 3:6, Mark 1:5, James 5:16, 1 John 1:8-9; presupposed in John 20:23).
- 16) Celibacy for Those Called to it: Matthew 19:12, 1 Corinthians 7:7-9,20,25-38 (especially 7:35).
- 17) Enjoy Christ’s Perpetual Presence and Assistance in a Special Way: Matthew 28:20.
Protestants — following Luther — cite 1 Peter 2:5, 9 (see also Revelation 1:6) in order to prove that all Christians are priests. But this doesn’t exclude a specially ordained, sacramental priesthood, since St. Peter was reflecting the language of Exodus 19:6, where the Jews were described in this fashion. Since the Jews had a separate Levitical priesthood, by analogy 1 Peter 2:9 cannot logically exclude a New Testament ordained priesthood. These texts are concerned with priestly holiness, as opposed to priestly function. The universal sense, for instance, never refers to the Eucharist or sacraments. Every Christian is a priest in terms of offering the sacrifices of prayer (Hebrews 13:15), almsgiving (Hebrews 13:16), and faith in Jesus (Philippians 2:17).Bishops (episkopos) possess all the powers, duties, and jurisdiction of priests, with the following important additional responsibilities:
- 1) Jurisdiction over Priests and Local Churches, and the Power to Ordain Priests: Acts 14:22, 1 Timothy 5:22, 2 Timothy 1:6, Titus 1:5.
- 2) Special Responsibility to Defend the Faith: Acts 20:28-31, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Titus 1:9-10, 2 Peter 3:15-16.
- 3) Power to Rebuke False Doctrine and Excommunicate: Acts 8:14-24, 1 Corinthians 16:22, 1 Timothy 5:20, 2 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:10-11.
- 4) Power to Bestow Confirmation (the Receiving of the Indwelling Holy Spirit): Acts 8:14-17, 19:5-6.
- 5) Management of Church Finances: 1 Timothy 3:3-4, 1 Peter 5:2.
In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament), episkopos is used for overseer in various senses, for example: officers (Judges 9:28, Isaiah 60:17), supervisors of funds (2 Chronicles 34:12,17), overseers of priests and Levites (Nehemiah 11:9, 2 Kings 11:18), and of temple and tabernacle functions (Numbers 4:16). God is called episkopos at Job 20:29, referring to His role as Judge, and Christ is an episkopos in 1 Peter 2:25 (RSV: Shepherd and Guardian of your souls).The Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29) bears witness to a definite hierarchical, episcopal structure of government in the early Church. St. Peter, the chief elder (the office of pope) of the entire Church (1 Peter 5:1; cf. John 21:15-17), presided and issued the authoritative pronouncement (15:7-11). Then James, bishop of Jerusalem (kind of like the host-mayor of a conference) gives a concurring (Acts 15:14), concluding statement (15:13-29). That James was the sole, “monarchical” bishop of Jerusalem is fairly apparent from Scripture (Acts 12:17, 15:13,19, 21:18, Galatians 1:19, 2:12). This fact is also attested by the first Christian historian, Eusebius (History of the Church, 7:19).
Much historical and patristic evidence also exists for the bishopric of St. Peter at Rome. No one disputes the fact that St. Clement (d.c.101) was the sole bishop of Rome a little later, or that St. Ignatius (d.c.110) was the bishop at Antioch, starting around 69 A.D. Thus, the “monarchical” bishop is both a biblical concept and an unarguable fact of the early Church. By the time we get to the mid-second century, virtually all historians hold that single bishops led each Christian community. This was to be the case in all Christendom, east and west, until Luther transferred this power to the secular princes in the 16th century, and the Anabaptist tradition eschewed ecclesiastical office either altogether or in large part. Today many denominations have no bishops whatsoever.
One may concede all the foregoing as true, yet deny apostolic succession, whereby these offices are passed down, or handed down, through the generations and centuries, much like Sacred Tradition. But this belief of the Catholic Church (along with Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglicanism) is also grounded in Scripture:
St. Paul teaches us (Ephesians 2:20) that the Church is built on the foundation of the apostles, whom Christ Himself chose (John 6:70, Acts 1:2,13; cf. Matthew 16:18). In Mark 6:30 the twelve original disciples of Jesus are called apostles, and Matthew 10:1-5 and Revelation 21:14 speak of the twelve apostles. After Judas defected, the remaining eleven Apostles appointed his successor, Matthias (Acts 1:20-26). Since Judas is called a bishop (episkopos) in this passage (1:20), then by logical extension all the Apostles can be considered bishops (albeit of an extraordinary sort).
If the Apostles are bishops, and one of them was replaced by another, after the death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ, then we have an explicit example of apostolic succession in the Bible, taking place before 35 A.D. In like fashion, St. Paul appears to be passing on his office to Timothy (2 Timothy 4:1-6), shortly before his death, around 65 A.D. This succession shows an authoritative equivalency between Apostles and bishops, who are the successors of the Apostles. As a corollary, we are also informed in Scripture that the Church itself is perpetual, infallible, and indefectible (Matthew 16:18, John 14:26, 16:18). Why should the early Church be set up in one form and the later Church in another?
All of this biblical data is harmonious with the ecclesiological views of the Catholic Church. There has been some development over the centuries, but in all essentials, the biblical Church and clergy and the Catholic Church and clergy are one and the same.
The historical evidence of the earliest Christians after the Apostles and the Church Fathers is quite compelling as well: there exists virtually unanimous consent as to the episcopal, hierarchical, visible nature of the Church, which proceeds authoritatively down through history by virtue of Apostolic Succession.
St. Clement, bishop of Rome (d.c. 101), teaches apostolic succession, around 80 A.D. (Epistle to Corinthians, 42:4-5; 44:1-3), and St. Irenaeus is a very strong witness to, and advocate of this tradition in the last two decades of the 2nd century (Against Heresies, 3: 3: 1, 4; 4: 26: 2; 5: 20: 1; 33: 8). Eusebius, the first historian of the Church, in his History of the Church, c. 325, begins by saying that one of the “chief matters” to be dealt with in his work is “the lines of succession from the holy apostles . . .” [translated by G. A. Williamson, Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1965, p. 31].
With regard to the threefold ministry of bishop, priest (elder/presbyteros), and deacon, St. Ignatius, bishop of Antioch, offers remarkable testimony, around 110 (Letter to the Magnesians, 2, 6:1; 13:1-2, Letter to the Trallians, 2:1-3; 3:1-2; 7:2, Letter to the Philadelphians, 7:1-2, Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8:1-2 – the last also being the first reference to the “Catholic Church”). St. Clement of Rome refers to the “high priest” and “priests” of Christians around 96 (1 Clement, 40). Other prominent early witnesses include St. Hippolytus (Apostolic Tradition, 9) and St. Clement of Alexandria (Stromateis, 6:13:107:2), both in the early third century.
Even John Calvin, contrary to many of his later followers, taught that the Church was visible and a “Mother” (Institutes of the Christian Religion, IV, 1, 1; IV, 1, 4; IV, 1, 13-14), the wrongness of sectarianism and schism (IV, 1, 5; IV, 1, 10-15), and that the Church includes sinners and “hypocrites” (IV, 1, 7; IV,1, 13-15: he cites Matthew 13:24-30, 47-58). His difference with Catholics here is that he defines the visible Church as his own Reformed Church.
And in another paper of mine defending Catholic ecclesiology:
The universal, visible Church is clearly indicated in a verse such as Acts 15:22:
Then it seemed good to the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. (RSV)
This was in the context of the Jerusalem Council. They had councils in those days. Imagine that!!! Who continues to have Ecumenical Councils of the whole Church? On the other hand, the reference to local churches occurs in Acts 15:41 (similar to the seven churches of Revelation).Another clear instance of a reference to the visible, universal Church appears in Acts 20:28:
Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers [ episkopos / bishops ], to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son. (cf. Mt 16:18)
Church (singular) and bishops who are overseers of that Church. You can’t get much more visible than that. So in one verse we see 1) hierarchy, 2) visibility, and 3) universality / oneness.
Whew! An awful lot of work and dense biblical argument (agree or disagree, and including an awareness of the threefold ministry and Protestant views of same) for one concerning whom you wrote above: “If you were concerned about accuracy on any level, you would know something about a topic before addressing it.” I think the above extensive biblical/historical argument qualifies at the very least as knowing a wee, dinky, little bit about the topic (i.e., in its biblical parameters), wouldn’t you agree, James? Most reasonable people will readily grant that point (and observe the “inaccurate” extremity in your language), even if you can’t see it, perhaps due to the very denominational presuppositional and hermeneutical blinders you accuse me of possessing.
To say that Baptists do not believe in bishops is to demonstrate 1) you know nothing about Protestant ecclesiology,
Again, the above demonstrates that it is a gross slander and falsehood to claim that I “know nothing about Protestant ecclesiology.” I submit that I know more about it (or I should say, rather, “them”) than you know about Catholic ecclesiology, or, say, development of doctrine. At any rate, I am not foolish enough to make such ridiculous sweeping claims about an opponent who can easily shoot them down with much documentation on his large and popular website for all to see. That rather undermines your overall case, don’t you think?
and 2) you read everything else with Roman eyes, reading back into the Bible and history a modern meaning (i.e,. a bishop, for you, must be the modern Roman concept, not the ancient or biblical one).
You never cease to amaze me. I don’t deny that I have a Catholic bias, any more than you have a Baptist bias,. This is natural and normal, and it would be silly for anyone to deny it. But — as usual — you have to go far beyond that truism, and go on to charge that I am special pleading, eisegeting, revising history, making anachronistic claims, and suchlike. This is absurd, for the simple reason that I have backed up my arguments above with vast documentation from both Holy Scripture and Protestant historians and scholarly reference works — not a single Catholic one. No Catholic dogmatic sources. Zilch.
They more than amply demonstrate that:
1) The Bible does differentiate between the offices in some fashion, as even Calvin argues, earning him derision from Baptist theologian Strong. The Bible also teaches apostolic succession, as shown.
2) Historians are virtually unanimous in asserting that the episcopacy was strongly in place by the mid-2nd century. I cited the Encyclopedia Britannica, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, and J.N.D. Kelly. I read similar passages in Latourette (Baptist), Schaff (German Reformed), and Pelikan (then Lutheran), all of whom I could easily quote in my favor, and demolish your contention that I am “reading back into . . . history a modern meaning.”
3) I need not argue a “modern Roman concept” of a bishop in order for my point to be firmly established as one of historical record. Otherwise, my citations would be meaningless, as they all state the facts of history, obviously not from a partisan, “Roman” standpoint (as they are not Catholic). I could easily have argued from an Orthodox, or Anglican notion of a bishop, which would just as decisively refute your apparent contention that episcopacy was not present in the early Church (if you wish to rail against me for arguing that it was). What, pray tell, is the “ancient concept” of a bishop, if not what I presented above? Please tell me; I’m dying to know.
I find that you are much more comfortable writing in debate than doing debate.
And vice versa for you, as you have refused to engage me in any substantive writing debate for now five-and-a-half years.
I believe your attempts to rehabilitate the Marian dogmas would fail, quickly, and easily, under the most simple of cross-examinations. And to prove this, I’d like to know if you would come on our webcast and defend your comments against me, live, for 90 minutes? Please let me know.
Of course, but with negotiations on details. It is not an appropriate forum for rapid-fire, precise questions about particular fathers, etc. (I can’t even cut-and-paste, nor do I wish to in such a live exchange). I want to have a normal discussion/conversation, just as Tim and I pretty much did, though we never got to our planned dialogue portion. But if you utilize the same tactic, I will simply add a bunch of footnotes to the website version (which I, of course, will again require), and show how your reasoning is fallacious, factually incorrect, and at times sophistical.
[I misunderstood Bishop White, thinking he was referring to a live typewritten chat in his IRC chat room, rather than a spoken broadcast. Soon after this, after I refused to engage Dr. White in live oral debate, our exchange quickly degenerated and Dr. White asked me to completely avoid him in the future. I have happily complied with his request for over a year now, as of this footnote, and plan to indefinitely, short of a change of heart on his part, and true biblical personal reconciliation]
James White Deacons-Elders-Bishops Controversy (Original title: “Dumbbells and Deacons: Does No Protestant Denomination Whatsoever Regard Deacons as the Equivalent of Pastors and Elders — or Even Bishops?) [6-16-07]
Vs. James White #9: White’s Self-Title of “Bishop” (I Use It!) (+ Why He Called Himself a Bishop, According to His Reformed Baptist Beliefs / White Responds, Arguing that Calling Him His Own Title is “Slander”) [3-14-17; slightly revised 11-13-19]