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Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est

The Final Chapter?

A Response/Summary by
Scott Windsor


The series of events that led up to James White admitting to presenting a contradiction and skyman (David King) openly admitting to error began in April of 2000. I was chatting in IRC when James White "pinged" me. A "ping" is something an individual can send out to check to see if someone else is "lagging" from you. It's kind of like sonar, you send out a "ping" and it bounces off whomever you're "pinging" then returns to you and lets you know how "far away" (in seconds) you are from the other person. Well, some IRC clients allow you to add a "quote" to the ping response, and my client will do that. So, when James "pinged" me he received a quote from me that said, "Roma locuta est, causa finita est - St. Augustine, Sermon 131.10." This "ping response" shows up privately in to the one who pinged me (it is not a public response in a channel). Well, immediately James responds to me in my channel, #CathApol with a "pop-up" (a pre-written text that scrolls on to the screen) with a quote from Merdinger. That entire "popup" can be seen in my response at: http://www.a2z.org/acts/aug131.htm. Let's summarize that popup, in the order that White presented the events surrounding Sermon 131: (White is known as "NA27" here)
  1. <NA27> Africa's amicable relationship with Rome took a turn for the worse with the death of Innocent in March 417. He was succeeded by Zosimus...he readmitted Pelagius and Caelestius to communion.
  2. <NA27> In Magnum Pondus and Postquam a Nobis the pope upbraided the Africans for their treatment of the two men. Disturbed by Zosimus' tactics, the Fathers sent envoys to Ravenna to seek Emperor Honorius' aid....In a third letter to Aurelius, Zosimus vacillated between making lofty pronouncements about papal prerogatives and seeking advice from the Africans.
  3. <NA27> On 30 April the emperor issued an edict banishing Pelagius and his followers from Rome.
  4. <NA27> On 1 May the Africans convened a plenary council at Carthage to defeat Pelagianism on their own terms. Over two hundred bishops categorically anathematized the central tenets of the movement.
  5. <NA27> In a letter to Zosimus at the close of the council, the Fathers pointedly remarked that they would uphold his predecessor's decrees, not his....
  6. <NA27> Zosimus capitulated, and in July he issued a long letter condemning Pelagianism....
  7. <NA27> It must be remembered that Zosimus, upon taking the throne in Rome, acted rashly, sending letters to North Africa in which he clearly displayed his pompous attitude. He arrogantly browbeat the North African bishops for being rash in their decisions concerning Pelagius and Coelestus; he proclaimed, as the bishop of Rome, that these men were "catholic" and "orthodox" and commanded that the North African bishops present their case before him.
  8. <NA27> Late in 417 or early in 418 the bishops of North Africa gathered in council to respond to the situation. They sent a letter to the bishop of Rome in which they pointedly said that they would continue to enforce the decision they had already rendered against Pelagius and Coelestus; they reminded Zosimus that his predecessor had agreed with them, and they said that they would refuse fellowship to the two until they confessed openly that "we are aided by the grace of God, through Christ, not only to know, but to do what is right, in each single act, so that without grace we are unable to have, think, speak, or do anything pertaining to piety."
    (Let the reader note, White has presented that Rome demanded the North Africans present their case before Pope Zosimus - then White confirms that they complied with Zosimus' "command" sending a letter to Rome explaining their stand/position).
  9. <NA27> The refusal of the North African bishops, led by Augustine, to bow to Zosimus makes it very clear that his words in Sermon 131 are *grossly* misused by RC apologists. And the rest of the history bears this out.
  10. <NA27> Zosimus was rattled by the North African rebuff. He wrote back, claiming that he had "maturely examined the matter" and had not reached his decision rashly. But the North Africans were firm: they called another council, with 200 bishops in attendance, in May and again condemned Pelagianism. Meanwhile, the Emperor in Ravenna concurred, and sent a letter demanding the expulsion of Pelagius and Coelestus. Despite his having declared both men "catholic," "orthodox," and that he had engaged in a "mature examination" of the case, Zosimus crumbled under the combined weight, did a complete about face, and joined in the condemnation of Pelagius and Coelestus.
  11. Overlooking the polemical remarks - let's reword that last section:
    Zosimus responded back to the North Africans stating he had maturely examined the issue and he still believed the (false) confession of Caelestius and Pelagius and still thought they were "catholic" and "orthodox." The North Africans remained firm and called another council in MAY (still in response to Zosimus position) Notice we've gone back in time a bit. Note also, the council condemns PelagianISM not PelagIUS. MEANWHILE, the Emperor banished Caelestius and Pelagius from Rome. It was at THIS POINT that Pope Zosimus capitulated and reinstated Innocent I's decree that both Caelestius and Pelagius were heretics.
So let's put the series of events in order and a bit more succinctly according to White's popup:
  1. Innocent I dies in March of 417
  2. Pope Zosimus writes two letters, Magnum Pondus and Postquam a Nobis, attempting to get the North Africans to agree with him. (dates not give)
  3. April 30 - The Emperor banishes Caelestius and Pelagius.
  4. May 1 - The North Africans hold a council at Carthage, reaffirming their position.
  5. A letter is sent to Zosimus after this council.
  6. July Pope Zosimus responds and condemns Pelagianism.
  7. (Added polemical commentary)
  8. In LATE 417 or EARLY 418 - the Bishops of North Africa convene in council to "respond" to the situation.
  9. The North Africans "refused to bow" and Catholic apologists have misused Sermon 131.
  10. Zosimus writes back to the North Africans saying he's maturely examined the matter.
    The North Africans remained firm and convened ANOTHER council with 200 bishops in attendance, and in MAY again condemned Pelagianism.
    Meanwhile, the emperor expells Pelegius and Caelestius.
    Zosimus capitulates due to pressure.
  11. (Just my rewording).
The subject of exactly WHEN Sermon 131 did not come up in this discussion, but already we're seeing signs of anachronism in White's presentation. Let us note for now that Sermon 131 was written in September of 417.

Speaking of anachronisms, also in that initial conversation, White stated:

<NA27> He said two NORTH AFRICAN councils had spoken and that Julius, Zosimus' predecessor, had agreed. The case was closed NOT because of Rome. Will you PLEASE at least admit this is the simple fact?
James names Julius as Zosimus' predecessor - which is true enough, Julius I was A predecessor to Zosimus, but Julius was Pope from 337 - 352, and Pelagius wasn't even BORN until 354 or 355!

Now, all this being said, let us go back to what started this conversation. My "ping response" said "Roma locuta est, causa finita est." Translated, that says, "Rome has spoken, the case is closed." After going round and round over the events that surrounded Sermon 131, and me quoting the entire sermon at: http://www.a2z.org/acts/aug131.htm I then admitted that "roma locuta est" is a paraphrase. Whereas St. Augustine didn't use "those words" it is not disingenuous to say that meaning was conveyed. In other words, though he didn't use "those words" he did "say that." The words I quoted were:

For already have two councils on this question been sent to the Apostolic see; and rescripts also have come from thence. The question has been brought to an issue.
The reader will note, "rescripts also have come from thence" MEANS "Rome has spoken!"

I would have thought this was enough to convince White that the use of "Roma locuta est" is not disingenuous or erroneous. True, "those words" are not used, but St. Augustine did say it. Well, shortly after posting this response White posts his own webpage which I fully include in my response at: http://www.a2z.org/acts/sermo131.htm". So, we begin Chapter 2 of this "discussion."

Chapter 2 - Continuing to Establish the History

White responds with a website of his own entitled:
Catholic Legends And How They Get Started: An Example


Deceived the bishop of Rome? The source of infallible and apostolic truth could be deceived about the orthodoxy of a man so as to improperly guide the church in regards to its leadership and teaching? How could such be? Obviously, the church of this day had no concept of an infallible Pope, nor any concept that the bishop of Rome was the universal head of the Church.
In White's attempt to impune the doctrine of Papal Infallibility, he tries to assert a level of impeccability as a necessary requirement of Papal Infallibility. Well, I for one (and many others) have repeatedly addressed this "impeccability" misconception. White is fully aware of what it takes to have something from a Pope be labelled as "infallible." Whereas I have stated it many times before, I will state it again for clarity and for the readers of this response that may not have seen our multiple exchanges throughout the last decade and beyond. In order for a statement from a Pope to carry the weight of infallibility, certain conditions MUST be met, they are (at least):
  1. It MUST be a matter of Faith or Morals
  2. It MUST be a teaching directed to the ENTIRE Church, not just a portion thereof.
  3. The teaching MUST list the penalty for rejecting the teaching.
If these three conditions, minimally, are not met - and ALL THREE OF THEM, then it cannot be said that the teaching being professed is infallible. That does not mean that if those conditions are not met that the teaching is errant or not binding to whom it was directed - but it is not an infallible or "ex cathedra" teaching. Now, since James has had this told to him MANY times, and ANYONE who is at all knowledgeable in Catholic teaching already KNOWS this, it is truly disingenous for White to (again) make such a claim. The ONLY ones "fooled" by such a statement would be those who have NOT researched Catholicism and/or those who presuppose that Catholicism MUST be in error and will essentially believe ANY negative comment regarding the Church. Again, it baffles me as to why James White would even attempt to use such an argument - he knows better!

Well, about one third of the way through this article the "roma locuta est" discussion arises again. This time White quotes the actual Latin (the language of St. Augustine):

Jam enim de hac causa duo concilia missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam; inde etiam rescripta venerunt; causa finita est: Utinam aliquando finiatur error.
White translates this to English:
. . . for already on this matter two councils have sent to the Apostolic See, whence also rescripts (reports) have come. The cause is finished, would that the error may terminate likewise.
Again, White makes the point that St. Augustine didn't use "those words" (roma locuta est), so often cited by Catholic apologists. I acknowledge again that "those words" are not used, but St. Augustine did "SAY IT" in slightly different words! Let's focus in on the Latin.
jam enim de hac causa for in this cause (matter)
duo concilia two councils
missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam; have sent letters to the Apostolic Seat (See);
inde etiam rescripta venerunt; and rescripts (responses) have come (back);
causa finita est: the case (cause) is closed (finished):
Utinam aliquando finiatur error. would their error be finish as well.

So, clearly we see that the North Africans have sent letters from two councils, and rescripts/responses have come from Rome - and in this matter/cause - the case is closed. No further word will come from St. Augustine on this matter of Pelagius and Caelestius. Now, PelagianISM is still rampant and St. Augustine continues to battle the heresy on other fronts, but in the case of Caelestius and Pelagius, he says no more, for "Rome had spoken, and the case was closed." He concludes that statement, acknowledging that the error of Pelagius and Caelestius has not ended - but as far as those two were concerned, there was nothing else to be said.

There's quite a few more things said in that article and response, so I urge the reader to take the time to go back and read the whole thing, you can do so now by clicking here.

I thought this fully covered the subject and didn't hear anything further from White until I saw a video of a debate between White and Fr. Stravinskas on Purgatory - and the subject comes up again.


Chapter 3 - Who Is Presenting Error?

In watching this debate with Fr. Stravinskas (Fr. S.) and James White, Fr. S. did very well presenting the Catholic teaching on Purgatory throughout the debate. Then, toward the end of the debate, just before the question and answer period, Fr. S. stated, "Roma locuta est, causa finita est" and attributed that statement to St. Augustine. James quickly blurts out, "Did you know St. Augustine didn't use those words?" I was a bit shocked to hear James bring up this subject again, for he had already been soundly proven wrong in his inference. We must grant him, (again) that St. Augustine didn't use those words - but again, we must assert that he did convey that thought, for truly Rome had "spoken" (sent rescripts) and at that point, the case was closed (and there's no denying St. Augustine said, "causa finita est").

I was in White's chat channel on July 29, 2001, and White asked me how I thought the debate went, and I commented as I did above, but also indicated that I thought James was misrepresenting what was actually "said" in Sermon 131. Here is that part of the conversation (Cue-home is James):

[18:58] <Cue-home> Say Scott, you finished with Stravinskas yet?
[18:59] <BigScott> James, yes, I finished...
[19:00] <Cue-home> Scott: And?
[19:00] <Cue-home> Did you have any idea what in the world he was talking about in his closing statement?
[19:05] <BigScott> OK, well... I thought Fr. S did OK, till the end, where you got him flustered on the "roma locuta" thing (that "technically" you stated the facts, but you again misrepresented "roma locuta") anyway, from that point on.... Fr. S. was clearly on the defensive, and did not do well at all.
[19:05] <Cue-home> Did Augustine ever say "Roma locuta" Scott?
[19:05] <BigScott> He did not use those words.
[19:05] <Cue-home> Is that what I said to him, Scott?
[19:06] <Cue-home> Should double Ph.D. RC apologists KNOW the context of the statements they quote, Scott?
At this point I need to interject something I did not say at the time of the original discussion, I hope James is reading this: Yes James, if Fr. Stravinskas wanted to use that "paraphrase" then I agree - he should also know what the actual Latin says. That way when someone challenges him as you did, he could have answered you effectively and not become "flustered" for the rest of the debate.

[19:06] <BigScott> Did St. Augustine ever say "causa finita est" James?
[19:06] <Cue-home> He surely did, but it was NOT because "Rome had spoken" Scott.
[19:06] <BigScott> like I said, "technically" you were correct...
[19:06] <Cue-home> Technically, historically, contextually correct.
[19:06] <BigScott> It was because "the Apostolic See" had "sent rescripts"
[19:07] <Cue-home> Your accusation of misrepresentation is absurd.
[19:07] <BigScott> that's "speaking"
[19:07] <Cue-home> And what else, Scott?
I missed this the first time through, James just indirectly admitted that "that's speaking" by consenting to "that's speaking" then adding, "And what else, Scott?" So James admits, indirectly, that "Rome has spoken" on this issue!

[19:07] <Cue-home> Why had they sent REPLIES?
[19:07] <Cue-home> To what had they REPLIED?
[19:07] <Cue-home> Well?
[19:08] <BigScott> They had replied to the two councils the African bishops had sent...
[19:08] <Cue-home> Indeed! So, why did the North African Councils have to take the LEAD in purging this HERESY from the Church, Scott?
[19:08] <BigScott> but when Rome had "spoken" (sent rescripts) at that point, St. Augustine said, "causa finita est"
[19:08] <Cue-home> IF, especially, the way this is mis-cited is true?
[19:09] <Cue-home> Anyone who has read the passage in its own context knows better, Scott. They know that Augustine had preached an entire sermon against Pelagianism without once mentioning Popes or Rome.
This is yet another point I missed in the original discussion! James just said, "without once mentioning Popes or Rome" and that statement is false. St. Augustine clearly states: "missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam" (letters sent to the Apostolic Seat/See) - which is absolutely referencing the Pope in Rome and not one honest theologian and/or historian would deny that "sedem apostolicam" refers to Pope Zosimus. James, however, does not believe that this is directed to Pope Zosimus, rather he again (anachronistically) states it was (Pope) Julius (see the quote from the logfile that immediately follows these comments for James' reference to Julius). Thus, even if it was not Pope Zosimus, and for the sake of argument we allowed the anachronism of that it was Pope Julius, then James is still wrong in asserting "without once mentioning Popes or Rome!"

The reader here will note that not only did James refer to Julius in the initial coversation which took place in the Spring of 2000, but he does so again on July 29. 2001. I take this opportunity to remind the reader that Pope Julius died at least two to three years before Pelagius was born so there is no way Pope Julius was in agreement with the North African councils regarding a heresy that was named for someone who isn't even born yet!

[19:09] <BigScott> I used your citation and translation in my initial response to you.
[19:09] <Cue-home> That he had, in fact, then spoken of the role of the North African Churches in standing against Pelagianism.
[19:09] <Cue-home> And then he pointed out the unity of the entire Western Church against Pelagianism by referencing Julius' agreement with the actions of the NA councils.
[19:09] <Cue-home> To turn that into an argument for Papal primacy, especially in light of what happened with Zosimus, is simply dishonest and incredible.
[19:10] <BigScott> then also in that response I quoted the ENTIRE Sermon 131... which has several other very "Catholic" presentations that I'm sure you'd like to overlook.
[19:10] <Cue-home> Fact is, your charge of "misrepresentation" was just shot down again, Scott. Then again, if every shallow and fallacious charge of victory on your part was removed from your website, there wouldn't be a whole lot left, would there?
First off, I do not "claim victory" on my website regarding James. In several places I "prove him wrong" but that is not a "charge of victory." Second, James has not "shot down" my charge of misrepresentation for all he has presented to support himself is anachronism and outright falsehood (stating "without once mentioning Popes or Rome"). So, this webpage becomes, yet another, statement of James White's error that he cannot deny! Let us ask him these questions to see if he can deny his error:
  1. James, do you openly acknowledge that "Rome had spoken" by sending "rescripts" to the North Africans? If not, do you retract your question/statement of "and what else?" quoted earlier on this webpage?
  2. James, do you openly admit now that Sermon 131 did indeed refer to a "Pope?" (I claim it's Zosimus to whom is being addressed, you claimed it was Julius - but BOTH were Popes!)
  3. James, do you agree now that you have erroneously named Julius, at least twice, in reference to the Pelagian heresy when Julius DIED two to three years prior to Pelagius being born?
  4. Let us return the "dig" he used against Fr. Stravinskas: "Should not one who has a doctorate in this area and also proclaims to be a Protestant apologist, know the context of the statements he quotes?"

I add, this is NOT a claim of "victory" - I merely am pointing out that James White is WRONG (again). I assert that he preaches this ERROR and sadly, many listen to him.

Back to the context of the discussion of July 29, 2001:

The chief thing I had been saying all that evening was that Sermon 131 was written in 417, and that the "sedem apostolicam" that is mentioned was that of Pope Zosimus. I had also challenged:

[19:19] <BigScott> James, what OTHER document did St. Augustine write between Sermon 131 and Zosimus' reversal?
[19:21] <BigScott> James, can you cite ANOTHER statement AFTER Sermon 131 and BEFORE Zosimus' reversal?
[19:21] <BigScott> (where Augustine speaks out on that same subject)
[19:21] <Cue-home> Asked and answered, Scott. Not going to waste any more time with you. You haven't the foggiest idea what you are talking about.
To which skyman replied:

[19:24] <skyman`> I pointed out that Augustine and all the African Bishops sent Zosimus a letter and told him to take a hike when he tried to convince the African Church to accept Pelagius' disciple Celestius as orthodox - How difficult is that ?
[19:25] <skyman`> The name of the letter that the Africans sent to Zosimus (telling him to take a hike in essence) was "Postquam a nobis"
[19:36] <skyman`> The document was "Postquam a nobis"
Well, James never answered that question, though he claims he did. Skyman finally does, but says it was Postquam a nobis which is yet another error - Pope Zosimus wrote that letter to the North Africans!

Now I ask, who was in error here? Who was making charges that someone else didn't have the foggiest idea? Who made statements of twisting and turning and working hard to get around the facts? (See below)

During this evening I took several shots of verbal abuse because of the stand I took, and did not "return fire:"

[19:12] <Cue-home> I hope you don't run your business with the same kind of logic you use in theology and history, Scott.
[19:15] <Cue-home> It's hopeless, folks. His mind is so enslaved he couldn't see the truth if it was standing right in front of him.
[19:16] <Cue-home> I've known many Romanists in my few years, but none so utterly blind to the most basic facts as BigScott.
[19:18] <Cue-home> Scott, please, man, we all know you haven't the foggiest idea what you are talking about, but this is getting embarrassing!!! Stop, man, think!
[19:18] <skyman`> Unbelievable
[19:18] <skyman`> Man, you guys have to twist & turn & work hard to get around the facts.
[19:19] <Cue-home> If you mean he ended his Sermon and went home for lunch, yes. If you mean he went silent on Pelagianism....you are utterly daft.
[19:20] <Cue-home> Sheesh, you have NO idea what you are babbling about.
[19:21] <Cue-home> Asked and answered, Scott. Not going to waste any more time with you. You haven't the foggiest idea what you are talking about.
[19:26] <Cue-home> I'm telling ya, guys....it's a lost cause. No matter how clearly you explain it, no matter how compelling and logical your presentation, Scott will not see it. He's blind. Utterly.
[19:27] <Cue-home> Scott....YOU ARE CLUELESS.
[19:28] <Cue-home> Totally.
[19:28] <Cue-home> Folks, Scott is so confused, he thinks Augustine was referring to ZOSIMUS in 131....
[19:29] <tatrstudy> Scott YOu won't listen
[19:29] <Cue-home> You have been shown your error so many times it is unreal. But you are decieved
[19:33] <skyman`> AKA, yes, they did...Because that's where the Pelagian heresy was before it reached Africa....Your ignorance on this is amazing. Rome was clueless about the heresy.
[19:33] <skyman`> If you'll just read a little of history you'd learn something
[19:40] <Cue-home> And the matter of your ability to make heads or tails out of almost any historical stuff is finished as well, ol' buddy.
[19:41] <skyman`> BigScott, what makes your statements utterly incredible is your constant lack of a grasp on the facts of history.
And a couple comments from the next evening that skyman asked me to include in my webpage response:
[20:55] <skyman> The fact is that RC historians have identified those 2 councils of 416, and they were both African councils, and I believe you BigScott to be too dishonest to admit it.
[20:55] <skyman>BTW BigScott, you can put my last words on your web site about your dishonesty.
Skyman, (Pastor) David King truly only knows me through IRC, so I would challenge him to present a situation where I have been "dishonest." If he has no substance to support his claim, the "Christian" thing to do would be to retract the claim. Especially in light of the evidence that my accounting of the events and dates surrounding Sermon 131 have been quite "honest" and "accurate" - whereas my detractors have at least been documented to be "inaccurate."

As far as "those 2 councils of 416" I admit you have identified them and that you identify them as African councils. I believe you are still erroneously placing them in 416. Here's the Catholic Encyclopedia accounting of ALL the African councils:

  1. Under St. Cyprian. Synods about A.D. 220
  2. Under Agrippinus; 236-248 (condemned Privatus of Lambesa).
  3. Carthage, 251,
  4. Carthage, 252,
  5. Carthage, 254,
  6. Carthage, 255;
  7. Carthage, Autumn of 255, or Spring of 256;
  8. Carthage, September 256.
  9. Under Gratus. at Carthage, 345-348.
  10. Under Aurelius. at Carthage, Hippo-Regius, 393,
  11. Under Aurelius. at Carthage, Hippo-Regius, 394,
  12. Under Aurelius. at Carthage, Hippo-Regius, 397 (two sessions), June and September;
  13. Under Aurelius. at Carthage, Hippo-Regius, 401;
  14. At Milevum, 402;
  15. At Carthage, 403-410,
  16. At Carthage, end of 417 or beginning of 418;
  17. At Carthage, May, 418;
  18. At Carthage, May and November, 419;
  19. At Carthage, 420,
  20. At Carthage, 424.
  21. Under Boniface. Synod of Carthage, 525,
  22. Under Boniface. Synod of Carthage, 534.
(source: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01199a.htm) (Another source that lists Church councils, but lists nothing in 416: http://cedar.evansville.edu/~ecoleweb/documentscou.html)
I see NOTHING in the year 416. So here is my "honest" presentation. Is there something to add to these accounts?

Now, IF I had been "in error" in presenting my facts and standing on them, then I would have no grounds for requesting apologies from those who made the statements above. I have already pointed out skyman's first error regarding Postquam a Nobis now I wish to point out yet another error presented by White and King (skyman):

[19:35] <Cue-home> OK, so the rescripts came from what Pope, Scott?
[19:36] <Cue-home> What Pope was on the throne when Augustine preached Sermon 131, Scott?
[19:36] <BigScott> St. Augustine is refering to the incident with Zosimus and the Pelagians in Sermon 131.10
[19:36] <Cue-home> AH, there we go.
[19:36] <Cue-home> OK, big guy....what's the date on Sermon 131?
[19:37] <BigScott> I'd have to go look it up James... don't have that committed to memory
[19:37] <Cue-home> Fine....for your information, oh great researcher of the ancients, Sermon 131 is from 416; ZOSIMUS BECAME POPE IN 417.
[19:37] <Cue-home> Your entire argument just exploded.
[19:38] <skyman`> BigScott, Innocent was pope when sermo 131 was preached
[19:38] <BigScott> Cue... so Augustine was against what Innocent said?
[19:38] <skyman`> I told you guys you didn't know what you were talking about, sheesh
[19:38] <BigScott> Innocent CONDEMNED Pel and Cel
[19:39] <skyman`> This is utterly unbelievable
[19:39] <Cue-home> The "rescripts" refer to Innocent's responses to two previous councils.
[19:39] <Cue-home> Your entire interpretation of causa finita est is shredded and left groundless; your entire article on the subject on the website is shown to be based upon abject ignorance; and your accusation of misrepresentation lodged earlier this evening thoroughly refuted. My many thanks.
[19:39] <Cue-home> Augustine's comment was simple: the Scriptures condemn Pelagianism; two North African councils have met and affirmed that the Scriptures condemn Pelagius; and even Rome agrees with OUR conclusion, the matter is finished.
There is absolutely NO MENTION of Scripture in the context of Sermon 131.10! Augustine doesn't even bring up Scripture here! So, James is inserting his presupposition into St. Augustine's words! THEN he mixes the condemnation of PelagianISM with PelagIUS himself - not quite the same issue here. We also don't see the word "OUR" in there either, another insertion of White's presuppositions upon St. Augustine. But let us continue:

[19:39] <BigScott> sorry. my article was based on your citation... so I will go back and look at it again... I am not above error... if I have made one, I will retract... will you?
[19:40] <Cue-home> And the matter of your ability to make heads or tails out of almost any historical stuff is finished as well, ol' buddy.
[19:40] <Cue-home> Good grief, man, MY ARTICLE GIVES THE DATES!!!!!!!!
[19:40] <BigScott> I am not above error... IF I have made a mistake, I will retract...
[19:40] <Cue-home> I quote:
[19:40] <Cue-home> These comments are in reference to the heresy of Pelagianism, which Augustine had been battling in the church in North Africa. This sermon, delivered September 23, 416, begins, ironically, with an exposition of John 6:53

Make note of the date that James cites tonight, then scroll down.

[19:41] <Cue-home> Did I give the date there, Scott?
[19:41] <Cue-home> The letters reached Innocent in time for him to take advice of his clergy, and send favorable replies on Jan. 27, 417.
[19:41] <skyman`> BigScott, what makes your statements utterly incredible is your constant lack of a grasp on the facts of history.
[19:41] <Cue-home> Did I give the date there, Scott?
[19:41] <Cue-home> In about six weeks more he was dead: but Zosimus, his successor, was scarcely installed in his place before Coelestius appeared at Rome in person to plead his cause;
[19:41] <Cue-home> See how that follows, Scott?
[19:41] <BigScott> sky, back off from your criticism for a moment and let James present what he has
[19:42] CStar sets mode: +o Cue-home
[19:42] <BigScott> Yes, James, you provide a date HERE... you did not initially
[19:42]*** Log file closed: 07/28/2001 7:42:37 PM
[19:42]Cue-home has kicked you from #prosapologian (Ain't your channel, bucko. Don't tell him to back off.)

Well, that abruptly ended the conversation for the evening - so I went back and studied the subject (again). I didn't have to go far, I just went to White's own article on this subject wherein he DOES cite the dates. So let me take this opportunity to correct myself. I stated:

[19:42] <BigScott> Yes, James, you provide a date HERE... you did not initially
Which is incorrect. James DID cite dates in his original article so I retract the claim that he did not.

Now, what DID I find? I found that James was inconsistent! ON HIS OWN he cites September of 416 as the date Sermon 131 was written - and this would substantiate his claims from this evening's discussion AND "explode" my entire argument, as he said... BUT! In the very same article, when he actually cites a source he cites the date being September of 417! Zosimus was Pope by 417, so now who's arguments have "exploded?" Now which of our arguments line up time wise and whose is anachronistic?

I attempted to return later that evening, but both White and King had left by then, so I come back the next evening, and they are there.

Chapter 4 - The Error Exposed and ADMITTED To

On July 30, 2001, I returned to #prosapologian, this time ready to expose the errors that both White and King had presented the night before. Now, more verbal abuse ensues, but we won't belabor that issue further in this response. Allow me to quote a few excerpts from this evening's chat:

[20:17] <Scott Windsor> James, do you still stand on your statement that Sermon 131 was written in 416?
[20:18] <James White> Actually, Scott, skyman and I are discussing that right now.
[20:18] <Scott Windsor> after all the belittleing I took last night, I have found you to have contradicted yourself on that date...
[20:18] <James White> No, some sources say 417.
[20:19] <Scott Windsor> in your article you cite September of 417
[20:19] <James White> All of them I can see say September; some don't even give a date.

[20:19] <James White> No, 416.
[20:19] <James White> Some sources say 417./
[20:19] <Scott Windsor> then later in the same article you (alone, no citation) said 416.
[20:19] <James White> Right/
[20:19] <James White> Skyman pointed that out to me today. I've tried to track down all my sources, but to be honest, I can't read all of them right now.

James admits to having contradictory dates in his own article.

[20:20] <James White> Not time wise, just ability wise.
[20:20] <Scott Windsor> understood...

[20:20] <James White> I can't read small print at the moment. :-(
[20:20] <Scott Windsor> oh... eye trouble? :-(
[20:20] <James White> That's the nice thing about computer screens....I can make fonts bigger. :-)
[20:20] <James White> Yeah, had eye surgery a few weeks ago.
[20:20] <Scott Windsor> hope it's going well...
[20:20] <James White> The results have been....uh.....less than spectacular.

[20:21] <Scott Windsor> you cited Merdinger in your article... with 417
[20:21] <James White> Yes. I was just discussing that with sky.

James confirms my clarification that he himself cited the date to be 417.

[20:21] <Scott Windsor> which only makes sense anyway... why would Augustine have been objecting in 416, to Innocent, when he AGREED with Innocent?
[20:22] <skyman> BigScott, I do believe you are right that the sermon was preached in sept of 417 & Zosimus was pope...

skyman agrees with me (contradicting what both skyman and James stated emphatically the day before) that the date of Sermon 131 was September of 417.

<skyman continues> But Augustine was referencing Innocent's decision in Sermon 131. Moreover in 418 Augustine called for a council, which decreed by canon law to forbid priests to makes oversea appeals to Rome.

Okay, we've documented now that White agrees he's contradicted himself, and that the only time he mentions the year 416 is on his own with no other citation or support, this coupled with the fact that skyman has fully stated that he believes MY statement that this happened in September of 417 is correct. Now whose argument has "completely exploded?" The anachronism of using 416 as the date of Sermon 131 totally changes the emphasis and to whom it was directed - for White asserted that since it was 416 and Zosimus wasn't even Pope yet, that Sermon 131 was being directed to Innocent I (noting also that White said it was Julius, though it must be granted his article says both Julius and Innocent in different places - to which we must ask the reader, "who is confused?").

On To The Next Error

Again, on the 29th, skyman stated St. Augustine had written Postquam a Nobis and I found that this was actually Pope Zosimus who wrote that letter (and also Magnum Pondus) to the North Africans, so I confronted skyman:

[20:37] <Scott Windsor> before we continue sky, you blasted me for what I said last night... do you retract your statement that Augustine wrote Postquam a Nobis?
[20:37] <skyman> Those letters were from Zosimus, and both those letters were his efforts to make the Africans submit to receiving the heretics back into communion.
[20:38] <skyman> BigScott, yes I certainly do - It was my mistake.
[20:38] <Scott Windsor> thank you.

One last error to point out

White had asked me to ask "The-Ox" about his take on the whole "roma locuta est" controversy - and his only comment there was that he didn't know enough about the subject to make a comment at this time, but he did have a small tidbit to offer relating to something else regarding White:

[20:44] <James White> causa duo concilia missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam
[20:45] <James White> What is a "missa" Scott?
[20:45] <James White> I just posted the Latin for you, Scott.
[20:45] <James White> causa duo concilia missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam
[20:45] <James White> What is a missa?
[20:46] <Scott Windsor> missa would be a letter
[20:46] <James White> OK, so two councils sent letters to the apostolic see. That's what the Latin says.
[20:46] <James White> causa duo concilia missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam
[20:46] <James White> causa duo concilia missa sunt ad sedem apostolicam
[20:47] <James White> Where is the term "missa" in the translation you provided, Scott?
[20:47] <James White> Where is the term "missa" in the translation you provided, Scott?
[20:48] <Scott Windsor> the two councils (advice) had been sent to Rome...
[20:48] <Scott Windsor> in that translation... that's how it could be read
[20:48] <James White> So which is it....the councils were North African and sent letters to Rome, or the two councils were held in Rome?
[20:48] <skyman> That was not advice those two councils sent, your own historians notes that
[20:49] <James White> I don't get the feeling Scott is overly worried about RC historians. :-)
[20:49] <Scott Windsor> James... the NA's had sent two letters... (councils)
Well, here I must come forward and admit to a mistake. I misinterpretted "missa" to mean "letters" and White followed right along with this. I will not
try to say he was being dishonest here, let it suffice that White was attempting to stretch his own knowledge to make a point, and "over-stretched." I do not make claims of being a great scholar or to have a doctorate, but as "The-Ox" pointed out to me - "missa" is not even a noun! Make note of the sentence structure White uses, "What is a 'missa' Scott?" "A missa" indicates White believes it to be a noun, well, it's a VERB! Here is what The-Ox had to say:

[19:30] <The-Ox> at one point, after quoting the latin, he asked you what "missa" meant
[19:30] <BigScott> I said missa meant "letter"
[19:30] <The-Ox> right
[19:31] <The-Ox> and he agreed
[19:31] <BigScott> yes
[19:31] <The-Ox> I assumed you were guessing, no?
[19:31] <BigScott> well... not an uneducated guess...
[19:31] <The-Ox> heh, ok
[19:31] <BigScott> we use "missals"
[19:31] <The-Ox> But he, being the one asking the question, should've really known Latin if he was going to ask it
[19:32] <The-Ox> well, maybe he was thinking of missals too
[19:32] <The-Ox> at any rate
[19:32] <The-Ox> missa does not mean letters
[19:32] <The-Ox> it is not even a noun
[19:32] <The-Ox> it's the first part of the verb "missa sunt," which means "were sent"
[19:33] <The-Ox> that's why the translation he himself provided didn't say "councils and letters were sent" but rather "councils were sent"
[19:34] <BigScott> missa sunt then is "was sent"? has nothing to do with a noun of "letters" rather it was part of a verb phrase?
[19:34] <The-Ox> not in the least
[19:35] <The-Ox> it is the 3rd person plural of mitto, the verb for "send"
[19:35] <The-Ox> perfect tense
[19:35] <The-Ox> passive voice
[21:49] <The-Ox> I'm off to bed. "io, missus sum!" ("I go, having been sent!")
So, I erred here, I admit it. This is not a major issue, but combined with everything else White and King were attempting to do that evening to "destroy" (explode was James' word) my arguments - they did much more damage to their own upon deeper reflection.

I won't belabor this any further for my position(s) from July 29th have been vindicated. It was not I who was "confused" about the dates, nor that Pope Zosimus had indeed sent responses (rescripts) to the North African bishops. I could (again) post the litany of ad hominems and insults they (continued) to use, but to what end? They were wrong, they were proven wrong, and admitted they were wrong. My whole intent of writing this webpage was to show just that. In over ten years (since 1988 or 89) of dealing with James White, and nearly that long with skyman, this is the first time they've admitted to me that they've erred - and thus, this is a significant event in my history of dealing with them. I have been told by several others that this too has been their experience in dealing with James White (the others didn't mention skyman).

So with no more fanfare or one-up-manship, I'll just again say, "Thank you."

Now, we started this article with the chronology of events according to White, let's close this article with a chronology of when things took place:

  1. Innocent I was Pope from 401 to 417.
  2. Innocent I declares Pelagianism a heresy.
  3. Innocent I declares Pelagius and Caelestius to be heretics.
  4. March 417 - Innocent I dies.
  5. Zosimus states (based on a false confession) that both Pelagius and Caelestius are "orthodox and Catholic."  Zosimus is not supporting Pelagianism, he's supporting the two "men."
  6. The North African bishops object, knowing full well that Zosimus has been deceived.
  7. The North Africans send two delgations to Rome in objection.
  8. Pope Zosimus responds to these two councils with Magnum Pondus and Postquam a Nobis which were both letters to the North Africans "upbraiding them" and criticising them for not accepting what the Pope had said (not infallibly) regarding Caelestius and Pelagius.
  9. The Emperor banishes Pelagius and Caelestius from Rome.
  10. Sep. 417 Magnum Pondus is written by Zosimus. (Giles, E. p. 206)
  11. Sept. 21, 417 Zosimus writes Postquam a Nobis. (originally found on www.aomin.org/sermo131.htm -but that page has been removed, that article can still be seen, with my comments at http://www.a2z.org/acts/jrw/sermo131.htm ). (Giles, E. p. 208)
  12. Sept. 23, 417 St. Augustine writes Sermon 131. (Giles, E. p. 204)
  13. September of 417, St. Augustine writes/preaches Sermon 131 - mentioning the matter of Pelagius and Caelestius, and that now Rome had indeed spoken and the case was closed. BUT the error of PelagianISM still persisted throughout the land and he concludes Sermon 131 with "would that their error be ended as well."  It would seem too, that at this point Pope Zosimus had not yet reversed what he was saying about the "catholicity" and "orthodoxy" of these two.  Augustine's point at the end could also have been a sarcastic remark - that the "error would end" as well.  The point is/was that Rome had indeed "spoken" and at that point and in this context, St. Augustine said, "causa finita est." 
  14. Late 417 or into 418 the North African's hold a council.  (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01199a.htm ).
  15. In 418, Pope Zosimus issued his "Epistola Tractatoria", Julianus was one of the eighteen Italian bishops who refused to subscribe to the condemnation of Pelagius which it contained, and was subsequently banished. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08557b.htm.  So, it would appear that the final condemnation from Pope Zosimus himself would come at some point in 418.  Again, Zosimus never submitted to Pelagianism himself - rather he was deceived.


I submit, THIS is "how things went down." I am also open to further constructive criticism of my presentation here, if you have added comments, please write me at: bigscott@a2z.org.

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