Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hays on Hahn: Accusations of Dishonesty, and Attacks On His Basic Scholastic Competence / Steve Hays' Novel, Fallacious Caricature of "Catholicism"

We often hear in anti-Catholic circles moaning and groaning about how given to personal attack Catholic apologists and Catholics in forums, supposedly are. I thought it would be quite instructive to note how many such elements are included in Reformed anti-Catholic apologist Steve Hays' review of Scott Hahn's book, Reasons to Believe. Ad hominem is, of course, a logical fallacy.

With this many fallacies occurring in the review, I would contend that serious doubt is cast upon Hays' own competence. Why should anyone pay particular attention to the arguments that he actually does make if he has to pepper them so liberally with these inane and irrelevant fallacies and insults? In other words, he himself loses credibility in acting in such a manner. But he doesn't seem to notice this.

He was apparently utterly unable to simply stick to a critique of the arguments in the book. He had to make it personal, and make out that Dr. Hahn is a clueless imbecile who is systematically dishonest in his presentations. Is this really necessary? Even if we grant the anti-Catholic the license to make their usual misguided arguments, I don't see why personal attacks and non-substantive, mind- and heart-reading accusations are frequently a key aspect of their critiques (even by their own dubious criteria of what a reasonable critique is supposed to look like):
If there’s one word to summarize his method, it’s “equivocation.”

He often engages in prooftexting, but the actual meaning of the text always falls short of what he needs it to mean, . . . It reminds me of some Mormon flyers I’ve read, which have verses from both the Bible and the Mormon apocrypha to prove their point. Needless to say, it’s only the Mormon prooftexts which really assert Mormon dogma.

In reading these chapters we need to keep our eye on the constant gear-shifting, as he goes from what the Bible really says to his idiosyncratic interpretations and fallacious inferences.

. . . Hahn has no excuse to mislead the reader this way.

. . . Hahn’s simplistic misrepresentation.

As a one-time evangelical himself, Hahn must know this, but he prefers to deceive the reader.

Once again, this is sometimes true, but misleading:

Observe the way he oscillates between the “Bible” and the “New Testament,” as if these were synonyms. This equivocation, which is really a bait-and-switch scam, enables him to make “self-evident” claims that are hardly self-evident if you substituted the “Old Testament” for the “New Testament.”

There is also a fatal equivocation in his comparison.

This is quite deceptive, for none of these local councils or synods qualify as ecumenical councils. Another one of Hahn’s studied equivocations.

Because he’s in the habiting of defaulting all answers to “the Church,” he doesn’t stop to think if what he’s saying makes a lick of sense.

Look at the blinding effect that Roman Catholicism has had on Hahn’s reading of Scripture.

Needless to say, his characterization of Roman Catholicism is utterly tendentious.

Hahn mouths a lot of formulaic phrases without given any thought to the nonsense he’s mouthing.

This is one of the many problems with Catholicism: they begin with their dogmatic conclusions and then cast about for a prooftext (or, should I say, pretext?) to supply the premise. Otherwise, Hahn would never come up with such an absurdly acontextual and self-defeating interpretation. But how many of his devoted, Catholic readers will pause for a moment to ask themselves whether this makes any sense?

Observe the deceptive way in which he turns the exception into the rule.

Is there some overriding reason why a Catholic seminary professor needs to be this incompetent? What we have here is a textbook semantic anachronism. He makes the elementary mistake of confusing words with concepts, and confounds that error with the further mistake of confusing Biblical usage with dogmatic usage.

There’s a pattern to Hahn’s apologetic: begin with Catholic dogma, fish around for a prooftext that, in reality, doesn’t come close, and ignore any counterexamples.

Is that supposed to be an argument? Is such a question-begging answer the best he can do?

Other issues aside, Hahn is equivocating.

Notice how Mariolatry reduces otherwise intelligent men to blubbering imbeciles. They’ll mouth any bit of pious nonsense, however palpably absurd.

Another one of Hahn’s equivocations. A “mortal sin” is a technical term in Catholic theology. Hahn is reading that specialized meaning back into 1 John. It’s a semantic anachronism to confound dogmatic usage with biblical usage. Is Hahn so linguistically na├»ve that he doesn’t know that?

A reader who relied on Hahn for his knowledge of Catholicism would have no idea what a skewed picture he’s getting. Hahn poses as a representative of Catholic dogma, but his exegetical argumentation is hardly representative of mainstream Catholicism.

Hahn has cast the issues as if this is a debate between Catholic exegesis and Evangelical exegesis—whereas it would more often be an internal debate between a retrograde convert and soapbox polemicist like Hahn over against mainstream Catholic scholarship.

Instead, Hahn is caught in some Victorian time-warp.

So many Roman Catholics simply give up doing exegesis. There’s no attempt to establish the actual meaning of the text. They default every interpretation to Catholic dogma regardless of what the text actually says. [implied that Hahn is a prime example of same]

Hahn gushes like one of those “royal watchers” who go gaga over the pomp and circumstance, as well as the tawdry affairs, of the royal family.
Moreover, Hays makes the following mind-numbingly idiotic remarks about the Blessed Virgin Mary (sounds like anti-Marianism leads to its own set of "blubbering imbecil[ities]"):
So she didn’t suckle Jesus or bake bread or fetch water. I guess she had a nanny, wet-nurse, and maid to take over all of the domestic duties while she assumed a lotus position twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. . . . with all due respect to the classic Reformers, did Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, or Wesley have some inside knowledge about what Mary and Joseph did behind closed doors? Did they have a hidden camera in their bedroom?

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