Wednesday, June 15, 2005

James White's Use of "Anti" Terms & More "Tired" Rhetoric and Anti-Catholic Terminological and Ethical Double Standards

Some guy who calls himself "tired" responded to my remarks on Steve Hays' anti-Catholic blog, Here is my slightly-expanded response in turn (also initially posted there). The entire discussion began with my post, I Love the Word "Popish": Steve Hays and Bigoted Anti-Catholic Titles.

His words will be in blue; James White's will be in green:

Just to clarify (since there are some dozen or so glaring factual errors in "tired's" remarks:

ME: "I've argued again and again that even if a group were as heretical and abominable as it is thought to be; that wouldn't give any professed Christian the 'right' or prerogative to call them what they don't want to be called, and to use terms with a history of hostility and bigotry attached to them."

No protestant wants to be called "anti-Catholic." Dave insists anyway.
No Catholic wants to be called a non-Christian. Anti-Catholics insist anyway (with no legitimate grounds to do so).

"Anti-Catholic" is merely a qualifying term, not a complete term of address for any Protestant. Thus, one can say "an anti-Catholic Protestant" or "anti-Catholic Orthodox." I also use the terms "anti-Protestant Catholic" and "anti-Protestant Orthodox," and am on record many times opposing these mentalities as much as anti-Catholicism (in fact, in my last paper on that subject, I defended James White himself over against an idiotic Catholic accuser).

I have no problem referring to various Protestants as Baptists or Presbyterians or Methodists or evangelicals or Calvinists or Reformed or whatever they call themselves. But "anti-Catholic" is not improper as a descriptive of the sort of Presbyterian or Baptist, etc. who believe what they do about the Catholic Church.

Nevertheless, Steve and others insist on using these terms known to be pejoratives, IN PLACE OF the title that Catholics use for themselves and wish to be referred to as. This is the language of bigotry. If one held to anti-Catholic beliefs but didn't refuse to call Catholics "Catholics," then that would not be bigoted language; only atrocious theology and history.

Furthermore, "anti-Catholic" remains in widespread use among scholars of any persuasion -- particularly historians and sociologists (including many Protestants), as I've documented at great length in one of my papers.

"Romanism", "popish," "papist," et al, on the other hand, are no longer used by scholars, since they are recognized in the dictionary and elsewhere as pejorative, hostile terms. The analogy simply doesn't fly.

Also, I know that Eric Svendsen has used the terminology of "anti-evangelical." If "anti-Catholicism" (which has a long scholarly use) is wrong, then why not "anti-evangelical" too?

James White uses various "anti" terms too (all the while hypocritically complaining about my use of "anti-Catholicism" and lying about my basis for the term):

" 'anti-Catholics' (convenient use of terminology)"
(4-5-05)

". . . he then decides on some arbitrary standard as to who is an 'anti-Catholic,' "

(5-4-05)

Here are some examples of White's frequent usage of "anti" terms:

"Anti-Calvinism" / "Anti-Calvinist"

(12-19-04 on his blog)

(also, 3-13-05 [twice] )

(also 1-20-05)

(also, 1-26-05)

(also, 3-29-05)

(Website paper #1)

(Website paper #2)

(Website paper #3)

"Anti-Christian"

(12-7-04)

"Anti-Lordship"

(1-26-05)

(also, 4-20-05)

(2-28-05 [twice] )

"Anti-Reformed"

"An Open Letter to Dave Hunt: James White Comments on Dave Hunt's New Anti-Reformed Book"
(description on White's website of one of his papers)

(Website paper #2)

(Website paper #3)

(Website paper #4 [five times] )

"Anti-Lutheran"

(website paper)

All that is perfectly fine and dandy, but how dare Dave Armstrong ever use the (scholarly) term "anti-Catholic"!!!!! That's bigoted and a double standard, while White (and Steve Hays and Svendsen and all the rest) can use all these terms and the stupid ones also, such as "Romanist" and so forth.

To Dave, no one could believe Roman Catholicism does not save from the wrath of God unless they hate the church.

I've never stated this; I don't believe it, and "tired" cannot document it anywhere in my writing. I might have said that such a person "may" hate the Church (which is entirely possible), but not that they "must" if they oppose Catholic soteriology and/or are anti-Catholic. I don't get into that. It is James White who gets into this "hate rhetoric," as I precisely showed in my last paper to which "tired" initially replied on my blog [see my response to tired and response to White's related comments]. He told me that I myself "hate[d] the gospel" in our first written exchange. So "tired" has it exactly backwards.

Therefore anyone who believes such hates the church;

I don't hold this position. I do believe that many anti-Catholics do (in fact) hate the (Catholic) Church, however [not that they always do, or inevitably must, by virtue of their position]. They say it themselves, so this is not a controversial opinion. But I would not accuse someone of such a thing, and I oppose it when other Catholics do this regarding particular individuals.

therefore he's justified in applying the label.

No; the word simply means "one who does not consider the Catholic Church or the whole of Catholic theology to be a species of Christianity." The word itself (at least as I and most Catholic apologists use it) has nothing to do with "hatred" or "bigotry." Those things may indeed be present also, but they have nothing to do with the definition proper.

What's not permitted for abominable heretics is fine as long as you say your target hates you first.

Again, this is not my difficulty, as I don't hold this view in the first place. It's Steve Hays, White and others who insist on using bigoted terms for others that those others do not use or accept. That's the bigotry; the anti-Catholicism is strictly theological. Whether White or Steve or anyone else "hates" me or my Church is for them to decide. I don't accuse any of them of personal hatred against me, and I don't hate anyone myself.

Whereas the reasoning behind "Romanist" is that a Roman Catholic's ultimate authority is Rome, not the Scriptures,

This is incorrect. Our ultimate authority is the "three-legged stool" of Scripture, Tradition, and Church, which are all harmonious. The use is still pejorative, whatever one thinks (either accurately or inaccurately) of our theology.

and knows nothing of meaningful catholicity.

That's a value judgment, but it doesn't overcome the ethical responsibility to use the standard terms of address. We do for you. Why can't you do the same for us?

One could dispute either claim, but the use of "Romanist" does not require assigning motives.

It's not assigning motives so much as it is pointing out the unethical, uncharitable nature of insulting, bigoted use of pejorative terms. That highly suggests an unsavoury motive on the part of those who use such terms. What would, after all, be a good motive for doing so?

A "history of hostility and bigotry" is vague.

Catholic-Protestant relations have not exactly been warm-fuzzy through the centuries. There is much bigotry and misinformation on both sides. I oppose it on both sides, not just one side.

It's also irrelevant; much of the slander hurled against protestants (they're rebellious, morally loose, hate God's church/people, etc.) is still around.

Indeed, and I oppose it. I've written about six papers defending Martin Luther himself from such slanders.

That doesn't mean we should tremble at the shadow of the Romish stake as if it were veiled within modern use.

Good for you. Very Biblish and Protestish of you.

First century Jews preferred "sons of Abraham" to "children of the devil."

Is that (the latter) what you wish to call me?

Did Jesus do an unchristlike thing?

No. Did I do an unArmstronglike thing?

Given his ethical sensibilities, does Dave refer to abortion advocates (an abominably heretical group, right?) as "pro-life" or "strident warriors for the rights of women"?

I call them pro-abortion or pro-aborts or pro-death advocates.

His supposed reductio should be beneath any rhetorician.
Certainly you have shown no such thing, whereas I have demonstrated quite enough to prove my case against anti-Catholic double standards in ethics and terminology.

After calling Steve's Christianity stunted and facile

Indeed, but there is a huge difference here that you seem to overlook: at least I grant him the dignity of his Christianity and Christian beliefs (proven by your description above), whereas that is denied to me (on wrongheaded, erroneous grounds). It's fine to read me out of the faith altogether, yet I dare not refer to the Christianity of my opponent as "stunted and facile"! How DARE I do that! What am I, an uppity Romanist "boy" or something?

(desirable terms for Protestants, I guess),

No; desirable for anti-Catholics. The two are not at all identical. Anti-Catholics are a small minority of all Protestants. I never was one when I was a Protestant.

Dave pantomimes declaring the Protestantism of the Steves as "dumb" in various ways

Yes; I think it (i.e., the anti-Catholicism, not the Protestantism) is intellectual suicide and beneath contempt. That's why I no longer debate those with such a position. It isn't respectable enough to debate. I don't know if you are an anti-Catholic or not. If you are, then this will be our last exchange too.

and announces this to be the inevitable consequence of permitting challenges to self-assigned titles.

I did?

But there is a difference (one I would have also believed self-evident) between claiming abortion is ultimately "genocide", Catholicism "Romanism", or Protestantism "anti-Catholicism", and dismissing any of them as "idiotism" or his other linguistic abominations.
As already explained, that was in a particular rhetorical context of reductio ad absurdum. So you are already misrepresenting what I wrote and taking it out of context [see my initial remark and later clarification and further explanation].

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