This is one of the oddest encounters I have ever had online. One "Turretinfan" (usually affectionately known as "TAO": short for The Anonymous One, because this guy has never yet revealed his true name) knows full well of my policy of no longer attempting to debate anti-Catholics. But I have had some (as usual) silly, tangential chit chat with anti-Catholics on an anti-Catholic blog lately, including with TAO, and he is absolutely determined to hound me over and over with the question of whether a Christian is one who is "saved" or not. He won't give it up, even though I have repeatedly stated that I feel he is trying to bait me into a debate, which I refuse to do, based on my policy, arrived at after many years of frustrated attempts at rational discussion with our esteemed anti-Catholic apologists and polemicists.
I think it is rather obvious by now that either he was trying to get me to enter a debate out of exasperation, so he and his cronies can then have a field day mocking me because I broke my resolution to not do so (with anti-Catholics like himself), or to show that I am (proven by my refusal to answer) somehow scared to death to answer, for fear that my entire apologetic for Catholicism will come tumbling down, due to one Profound Question. It would be all over in one brilliant stroke. Either way, he "wins." That is my theory as to why he is doing this (knowing my policy). Whether I answer or don't answer, he has an opportunity to mock and ridicule (which is pretty much all these guys do anymore with us despised "papists / "Romanists").
Anyway, you can decide yourself if his methodology is asinine and childish (as I think) by reading this Abbot and Costello, "Who's on Third"-like silliness. Here is the entire thing, from the anti-Catholic blog, Hays' Triablogue site (noted by an asterisk: *), and my own (two asterisks: **). TAO's words will be in blue. After reading this, I think it is highly likely that any reasonably sane, conscious person (not themselves afflicted by the malady of anti-Catholicism) would never again question the prudence or reasonableness of my decision to cease engaging eccentric characters like this in true debate / dialogue on theology. Ask yourself how you would do in response to such relentless, mindless, utterly boorish goading and mocking.
* * * * *
You call us "Christians" but do you use that term as synonymous with "saved"? Or do you mean something less by that? (7-9-09) 
Protestant baptism is valid, sacramental, and regenerative. (7-9-09)
Which is a "no" to my question about "Christian" meaning "saved," right? I'm not sure why you're being so cagey. Do you equate "Christian" and "saved" or not? (7-9-09) 
. . . evasion . . . (7-10-09*)
I don't debate anti-Catholics anymore, per my above explanation. You had your chance to engage in a live chat debate with me about the definition of Christian and you declined, carping on and on, as you do, about your contention that I am not a bona fide orthodox Catholic in the first place. I won't be baited into it here. (7-9-09)
It's amazing you cannot answer a simple and straight question about what the word "Christian" means when you were hounding Reformed folks to debate you on that topic. I bet the folks who declined simply see this as further evidence of the wisdom of their decision. Meanwhile, I still have held open the option (despite your outright lies to the contrary) of debating you if you will take the Roman Catholic position in the debate. (7-9-09) 
. . . excuse . . . (7-10-09*)
Right TAO. Nice melodramatic flourish there. The pseudo-"negotiations" were beaten to death with many thousands of words -- summarized in a lengthy footnote in my recent paper. . . . I'm through debating all anti-Catholics, in terms of working through issues back and forth. You know that full well. You saw me reiterate it in this thread. Yet you tried to bait me into a discussion on the very same topic. Surely you are not so ignorant as to not know the huge vistas of debate that open up when throwing out even one gigantic term like "saved." Surely you are not so naive as to not know that there can be no short answer to that. A short answer would lead to more of your prodding, and then there we are: right back into a debate situation that I have already stated is out of the question, after 12 or so years of trying to have cordial, reasonable discussions with anti-Catholics like yourself. . . . (7-9-09)
Amazing that you can type so many words to criticize a flourish (your description) and can't answer a simple question. That ought to trouble you, even if you want to call any criticism of yourself an "insult." (7-9-09) 
Again I prodded Dave to try to get a straight answer out of him (Got no answer.) (7-10-09*) 
But again - does "Christian" mean "saved"? Dave won't say (choosing instead to focus on flourishes). (7-9-09) 
Psychological (baiting) tactics don't work with me, TAO. I don't play those games. Theology is a serious matter and we should all respect it as such. (7-9-09)
. . . rebuff . . . (7-10-09*)
Apparently, you don't take theology seriously enough to be able to answer a simple question. If "baiting" (your term) doesn't help you to stop evading - would anything help you? Are you just hopelessly unable to answer simple questions? You heart should be doing my job for you, telling you that while you post floods of self-justifying comments for your insults, you cannot actually answer a simple question. (7-10-09) 
Still, I did not give up trying to get my question answered but tried once again (got no answer) (7-10-09*) 
I posed the question a third time in the form of incredulity over his twice failure to answer the question. I got the excuse . . . (7-10-09*) 
[responding to an ecumenical Calvinist regarding similar issues; later I referred TAO back to this, to no avail] This gets to the question of subjective vs. objective criteria of what Christian is. Because the Protestant believes that salvation is already attained, most will want to surmise whether this momentous event has happened in the life of a person. Then the Calvinist / Arminian thing comes into it, too. I understand this. I,. too, had a radical life-changing experience in 1977, and again in 1980, when I was, I firmly believe, further filled with the Holy Spirit. Catholics believe that Baptism regenerates: a real change takes place: one is incorporated into the Body of Christ. So these are all big discussions. I think in the end we can only sensibly discuss the issue across the board on a more objective, theological basis: on the creedal level. I usually use the Nicene Creed as a criteria for the definition of a Christian.On this basis, Catholics clearly would be Christians. You said this yourself, so you clearly mean it. But if we speculate on the present spiritual state of individuals, we have no certainty, and it goes round and round. John Calvin said we cannot be certain who is of the elect; even ourselves. Luther struggled with that, too. And both believed in assurance of salvation in some sense, over against an Arminian / Catholic / Orthodox understanding. When a Calvinist clearly forsakes the reformed faith, and is deeply into sin and outward rebellion against God, Calvinist theology requires that he or she is now defined as having never been a Christian or saved or justified or regenerated at all. But it then follows that those who thought he or she was in the past were wrong, and did not have certainty at all. So we just don't know with absolute certainty. We can only go, therefore, by what a person claims to believe, in judging whether they are Christians.
The [anti-Catholic] categories forbid Catholics from being Christians. A consistent, obedient, orthodox Catholic cannot possibly be a Christian. To be a good Catholic is to be no Christian. To be a Christian is to be a bad (heterodox) Catholic. Most anti-Catholics, following Calvin and Luther, will leave a tiny loophole for the Catholic individual to have a chance to still be saved. But this is virtually despite the Catholic Church. If one is a Catholic and understands Church teaching and adheres to it, they are out of the fold, by this mentality. Some (like an Baptist preacher friend of mine I once worked for briefly, or one of my best friends, will contend that a former evangelical Protestant like myself was clearly saved, and so therefore (from eternal security) could not have fallen away, even having become Catholic. (7-10-09)
So many words from Dave on his favorite misleading label of "anti-Catholic" and still no answer about whether being Christian means being saved. One wonders if Dave himself notices this oddity. (7-10-09) 
I notice that you are quite odd (and oddly, inexplicably uncomprehending). (7-10-09)
Don't let any oddities I possess distract you from answering a simple question, please. Try to focus on the issues. I think that, if you try hard, you can probably bite the bullet and answer the question. (7-10-09) 
Tried once more (I got a personal remark, but no answer). (7-10-09*) 
[to someone else] As you see, I have continually declined T-Fan's baiting, precisely because he is trying to woo me into a theological discussion / debate, which I refuse to do with an anti-Catholic anymore. You can't have it both ways: mock me for supposedly engaging in what I'm not engaging in, as proven by T-Fans infantile mocking and attempts to goad me. Not that logic is the high point of anti-Catholic gifts and talents, but still . . . (7-10-09)
Now, let's try one that's not taken out of context: "I have no problem talking to anybody, or being friendly, or answering questions, etc. " But over at Mr. Swan's blog, Mr. Armstrong couldn't answer the simple question about whether he uses "Christian" as synonymous with "saved." (7-10-09*) 
I pushed once more for an answer to the question (Dave simply references two of his previous non-answers - the excuse in response to try #3 and to the first of a series of lengthy comments in defense of the misleading label "anti-catholic"). I really think that any reasonable person would say that his claim: "I have no problem talking to anybody, or being friendly, or answering questions, etc. " simply isn't true. How many chances do I Have to give this guy to be able say that such a claim is a lie? (7-10-09*) 
Falsely claiming that I "refused to debate" is something you did to suit your polemical purposes and justify your running away from Reformed apologists. You practically admitted as much later on when explaining your motives for the challenge. So, please - run away all you like, refuse to answer simple questions as much as you like, but face the fact of what you are doing, at least for your own benefit, if not for that of the folks who read your blog. And that simple question, just for the record, is whether you consider "Christian" and "saved" to be synonymous. That's the question that I asked, and for which I got belittled and insulted by you. (7-11-09**) 
Besides, if I was so interested in "running away" from Reformeds, why would I be engaged for hundreds of hours presently in answering the entirety of Calvin's Book IV of his Institutes line-by-line? Surely you have better things to do than to utterly make a fool of yourself, no? (7-11-09**)
Whatever you say. If anyone holding Calvin's positions decides that your Calvin posts are worth responding to they will be labeled "anti-Catholic" and ignored per your non-vow commitment to running away from Reformed apologetics. (7-11-09**)
If someone responds who is not an anti-Catholic (like, e.g., Pilgrimsarbour), I'll be more than happy to interact, just as I was with him. I'd rather "run away" from foolish and vain conversations than from logic and charity, any day. (7-11-09**)
[quoting me] "I'd rather "run away" from foolish and vain conversations than from logic and charity, any day." "My own definition of anti-Catholic has no connection whatsoever to behavior." (7-11-09**)
I don't believe you can possibly be this dense and logically challenged., Surely you must be joking when you make so many elementary logical lapses . . . (7-12-09**)
. . . he made the following vow: "I'll be ignoring you and other anti-Catholics (barring exceptional circumstances; particularly if it involves defending someone else from anti-Catholic smear campaigns)." Of course, as I predicted, he couldn't do that. In fact, I've already documented over 50 examples of his not ignoring "anti-Catholics" (documentation) since that vow was made. I could add many more. As you can see the list hasn't been updated for a few months. But now the vow has morphed. It's not really ignoring us (which would be impossible for poor Dave) but instead just running away from theological arguments, explanations, and (most of all) the dreaded task of answering simple questions. In a very worldly sense, this is wise of Dave: his positions are so weak that they cannot stand up to reasoned discussion (or even simple questions) with the most staunch opponents of his religion. One way to minimize having the weakness of his positions demonstrated for all is to run away from theological discussions with those that oppose his religion. But - then again - isn't Dave supposedly an apologist? Isn't an apologist for religion, position, or viewpoint "x" supposed to be prepared to defend that from anti-x's? We defend Calvinism against anti-Calvinists, and the Reformed faith more generally against her most outspoken detractors. Not Dave. Go figure. (7-12-09*) 
Must you continue to be illogical in virtually every point you try to make concerning me? (7-15-09)
Still hiding from that simple question about whether you view "Christian" and "saved" as synonymous? (7-15-09) 
Have already explained about ten times now as to why I refuse to answer your question, TAO (once in great detail and another time actually hitting closely on the topic in reply to a non-anti-Catholic Calvinist).
But I haven't given up hope yet that you will man up and answer it. 
You killed the effort when I challenged you (along with six others) to a debate on definition of Christianity / Christian by your ridiculous qualifications of my having to become a Protestant in order to be a real Catholic in order to debate you.
You know very well that I didn't ask you to become a Protestant.
I won't be baited into it now.
I wonder whether, in your imagination, answering a simple question is either (1) becoming a Protestant or (2) engaging in the chatroom debate you previously hounded us for?
I gave up on you guys having any sort of sustained, cordial, rational discussion.
Ah, there we go ... yet above you tried to claim you were still steering for said rational discussion. So confusing this back and forth.
Your antics now amply confirm it.
Yes, had you been willing to debate, I would have insisted that you answer questions, like the question that you've been evading about 10 times now. 
You can't take no for an answer.
You can't answer a simple question. 
You insist on either debating me, or else using your antics as fodder for further mocking (as you've already done at Triablogue).
Actually, I've just been trying to get you to answer a simple question. It's interesting that you cannot do that with debate (in your mind) or mockery (again, in your mind). 
More confirmation of the wisdom of my decision to ignore you, debate-wise.
But not mocking-wise, eh? Although you are trying to steer things toward rational discussion, or are you?
You could have "cross-examined" me for hours if you had simply said "yes" way back when.
One imagines that you would have been able to keep evading the questions for hours, since you've managed to do so for days here. 
You could have had a grand old time and shown me to be an absolute fool, if I am anywhere near as dumb and stupid and clueless as our gracious host, White, and others of your pals have claimed for years.
It's interesting how your mind works. If I debate someone it is not for that purpose. It is to advance the cause of the truth.
If you're so intent on debating me, simply take one of my papers and reply to it, just like I do with Old Man Calvin (Book IV of the Institutes).
I'm not the least bit intent on debating you. There are, in fact, some articles of yours that I had queued for response at some point, but they have not been a high priority. In any event, I wouldn't consider responding to your articles, as I have done in the past, to be a "debate."
I won't reply. You're safe.
If I were worried about people replying, I'd write only on my moleskine.
And I trust all logically-trained, fair-minded readers to immediately see right through your arguments, so that is no concern to me at all. Fire away.
It's interesting how you judge arguments before they are presented. In some circles, that's referred to as prejudice.
If our host can write 110 papers about me, you can put up 50 or so, no (because I am so dangerous to the flock)?
LOL - I've had people beg me to respond before, but I've never had someone make a request for 50 responses! I'll have to remember that.
And please do tell: if there are all these mentions of White and Tim on my blog, how can this be if I have supposedly been running from all anti-Catholics (and those close to that position) all along, according to you?
I said you're running away (now, not "all along") from Reformed apologists (I'd distinguish between them and "all anti-Catholics" but the way you grossly abuse the term, it amounts to about the same thing). (7-15-09)
As if my huge Anti-Catholicism page with its scores of papers doesn't exist? I've either been replying to White or I haven't. I have many dozens of replies to him, and they are chock-full of substance, believe me. I just recommended one on my site about 1 Corinthians 3 that was 11,000 words. . . .
But you can't have it both ways. If you mock me because I have a lot of stuff about White, then obviously I have been dealing with him and not running in abject terror of any counter-reply, as he has done with my materials for 14 years now.
On second thought, since (in your replies to me, anyway) you seem to be remarkably free of self-consistent logical thought, you could indeed assert two mutually contradictory things, and think nothing of it; even glory in it. (7-15-09)
Of course there hasn't been a normal conversation yet, though, in this combox. Whenever I try to steer it to an actual reasoned discussion, y'all go right back to mocking. Par for the course. I would expect nothing more in these parts.
A few days ago you were avoiding answering a simple question in order to avoid actual reasoned discussion according to your own testimony. (7-15-09) 
So tell me TAO: why is my answer to your Big Question so hugely important to you, that you feel you have to hound me for days on end to answer it?
What?! you refuse to answer my simple question and then try to question my motives for asking the question in the first place? Amazing! Answer the question, and I'll be happy to explain my motive for asking. See, I'm sweetening the pot with a little quid pro quo. That's the carrot to try to get you to answer my simple question. 
What is it about all my many previous reasons for refusing to do so that is so incomprehensible?
I'm not sure you understand the basic problem here. It's a simple question. I'm looking for the answer. I'm not trying to peer into your psyche (as you seem to be interested in doing with me), just getting you to deal with this simple question. (7-15-09) 
If you were simply looking for a simple answer to a simple question (if indeed you are so simplistic to think that this particular question is so easily answered in one or two words, given all the well-known soteriological disputes, that are anything but simple), then you would have either:
Watch out, here come the forced choices
1) accepted my initial short answer,But you didn't do either because (it's fairly plain to me) the goal was mockery and belittling from the beginning. You knew that you could make hay whatever I did. If I responded in the length the question demands, you could carp on about how I (again) broke my supposed "vow" (that I have never made, since the only vow in my entire life was when I got married: one I have kept for almost 25 years).
Your initial response was an evasion. It did not answer the question, and you know it. 
2) or the long answer (in effect) that I offered to Pilgrimsarbour, that I later referred you to. You simply deemed that to be a non-answer.
Since it did not answer the question. 
3) And you would not have engaged in mockery and insinuations at Triablogue, to the effect that I am a coward, not "man" enough to answer, which only exposes (in my opinion) your quite probable motivation in asking to begin with.
You're still not man enough to directly answer the question - you're still evading, refusing to answer, and attacking the questioner. If you don't like that fact, do something about it: answer the question.
I know you will be shocked that your amateur psychology practice missed, but the reason I didn't go with one of the alternatives above was that you didn't answer the question. It's really that simple. I want an answer to the question, and if I have to ask a few times to get the answer - so be it. 
If I don't respond (to your satisfaction, that is), then you can take your present course, of making out that I am a coward.
If the shoe fits ... but I'd rather just have an answer to the question. 
So my choice is coward or falsely alleged vow-breaker. Some choice, huh? That's what I get when I engage you in any degree whatsoever. It's all just for entertainment's sake, in your eyes, and for folks like mouse, etc., safely observing from the sidelines and never in much danger of the sin of "committing" (heaven forbid) a serious theological discourse, even in a sub-debate, severely limited sense.
You made the decision/vow/whatever to ignore Reformed apologists. That's no one's fault but your own. But I'll tell you what - I'd have a little more respect for your refusal to answer a simple question if you had something you yourself considered a "vow" not to do it. You draw a line between "vows" and something apparently equal so binding that it leaves you in between a rock and a hard place where you are a pseudo-vow-breaker or a coward (by your own analysis). Just answer the question and escape this dilemma of your own construction. (7-15-09) 
* * * * *
But if I were to ask you to respond to Turretinfan's question, might you be more inclined to do so? I ask because I'm interested in your answer.I replied:
Not in this context, for reasons I have explained. I have already pretty much offered you the answer I would give, in our earlier dialogue, in my discussion of subjective vs. objective elements in the definition of Christian (that I have referred TAO back to, only to be mocked again).And TAO jumped right on that with more facile, self-congratulatory rhetoric:
If you'd like to have a discussion on our own elsewhere (my site or yours) then I'd be happy to cordially dialogue as normal men do, minus all the nonsense that goes on here. I'm under no self-imposed constraints with you as I am with TAO, because you are not an anti-Catholic, and have proven yourself quite gentlemanly (and challenging and interesting too). (7-15-09)
LOL - Now you cannot answer because TurretinFan is around. "If I answer you here, it will look like TurretinFan ate my lunch. Can I answer you behind the bleachers?" (7-15-09) 
The numbingly mindless nonsense continues today, too:
And despite your post, I'm still waiting for an answer to that question. Maybe if I hold your feet to the virtual fire for a bit, you'll realize how easy it would be simply to answer the question. But I realize now that perhaps you've been feeling burdened. Perhaps you've thought I wanted not just an answer to whether you do or do not use the term "Christian" as synonymous with "saved" but also a detailed defense of your usage. If that has been your problem, let me set your mind at rest. I just want a clear unequivocal answer to the question. If you feel that you have to explain your answer, I leave that up to you, but I'm not asking for a detailed explanation. I'd be perfectly satisfied if you answered the question monosyllabically with a "yes" or "no" as the case may be. I'm not asking you for a debate - just a simple answer to a simple question. (7-16-09) 
If the question had been posed by someone toward whom Dave didn't have as much antipathy, that might have enhanced his willingness to answer the question. That's true whether his antipathy toward me (and other Reformed apologists) is justified or unjustified. (7-16-09) 
TAO has a blog called Reformed Boor. Never were truer or more accurate words spoken . . . TAO writes on the sidebar:
At least at first, this blog will be responding (boorishly) to questions asked to other columnists.How well I can relate, having been on the receiving end of his boorishness (and you, too, after being masochistic enough to endure this post; my sympathies) . . .
Yet more requests from the broken record:
One might think that answering a simple question would be more important than ad hominem but that assumes rationality. (7-16-09) 
With this kind of double-mindedness, no wonder Dave can't answer a simple question. (7-16-09) 
You're very fond of mocking Mr. Bridge's name (You've called him "Defective Gene" and "Gene 'Troll' Bridges" here and other things elsewhere), but not so fond of answering simple questions.
Odd, isn't it? 
Hey TAO. We're now up to 53 times asking the same question [over eight days' time, or almost seven times a day, average]. I wanna get up to at least 75, if not 100, so the entertainment value can increase proportionately. I know you won't disappoint us. (7-16-09)
One assumes that however immature you may be acting now, you'll eventually answer the simple question. If it takes asking you 100 times, so be it. (7-16-09) 
Excellent! So we have a fightin' chance for 75, and a fair shot at achieving 100, too. This is the best thing since Cool Hand Luke eatin' 50 eggs . . . (7-16-09)
Too bad you are not as eager to answer simple questions as you are to accuse others of doing the same thing you do. (7-16-09) 
At least I still have my wits about me. (7-16-09)
We've proven you are obstinately refusing to answer a simple question no matter how many times it is asked. (7-16-09) 
YES! TAO has just attained to 7.0 / day average asking the same old question (56 times in 8 days). That was my goal for today. Everything else is above and beyond. Eight more today would get him to the 8.0 mark. It's entirely possible, I think. It would only take a little more than six days at his present rate to top the 100 mark. THAT's what I wanna see (really bad). It would be a keeper for the ages, for sure. The rate of commission, however (it should be duly noted), is increasing. TAO has already uttered The Question a dozen times today, or a full five above his average for one day. So I believe it is possible to hit the century mark in as little as four-five days, even assuming that the guy has a life. (7-16-09)
I'm trying to get you to answer a simple question. (7-16-09) 
And Dave, you do realize that whatever score you are keeping is also the tally of your refusals to answer the simple question, yes? (7-16-09) 
Considering that we'd expect a mind-reader to answer a simple question, . . . (7-16-09) 
I realize I'm biased on this point, but I think that the ability to answer a simple question is probably a requirement to be considered an "apologist." (7-17-09) 
That's your 60th time asking, TAO. Congrats! You're ten past Cool Hand Luke and his eggs now and you've equaled Babe Ruth's homers in 1927. Onwards and upwards! ROFL. I look forward to another productive day for you. (7-17-09)
Dave's answering lots of non-substantive things, but not a simple question, even if asked 60+ times. (7-17-09) 
TAO was actually answered three times. He is simply too dense to know that. I told him over and over. (7-17-09)
You know you didn't answer the question. Evasions aren't answers. You recognized that previously when you gave excuses for why you weren't answering the question. I guess you've at least come to a realization that you ought to have answered the question, which is some progress. Perhaps if I ask another (How many times is it now? - multiply by two) times. I'll actually get an honest, straightforward answer to a simple question. . . . Why, Dave, can you not just answer the simple question directly? Why be so cagey? I'm not asking that to hear your excuses ... I'm asking that to provoke you to thought ... and hopefully to actually answer the question. (7-17-09) 
The man who can't answer a simple question making simple requests. (7-17-09) 
The man [Steve Hays] writes about precisely what he wants to write about (just as I do). He usually refuses to discuss anything with a Catholic past one round at the most. I refuse to discuss theology any longer with anti-Catholics. We all make our choices. Most normal folks will accept those. Others (no names!) keep hounding like a three-year-old asking for a toy at a toy store, as if they never understood a person's completely acceptable choices for his own use of time. (7-17-09)
You write books, but you can't answer a simple question, as we've demonstrated dozens of times. (8-3-09) 
. . . if you'd do me the favor of answering my simple question, I'd happily answer yours. (8-4-09)