But in fact, he was evading huge amounts of essential material. His excuses (and those of others made for him) thus far have been lack of time and necessity, and that my comprehensive replies nevertheless supposedly lacked substance to a great extent. Readers may make their own conclusions.
[after this paper was written, Jason made the following yawningly predictable reply. His usual civility seems to have gone by the wayside (must be hanging around Steve Hays a lot). It is standard anti-Catholic talking points now in response to me, that I write a lot, but no matter, since, you see, my writing has no content. Watch Jason spin like a top and play that game:I would suggest that people compare the quality of my material to the quality of his on those matters both of us have addressed so far. Dave keeps complaining that I haven't responded to more of his material, but consider the difference in quality in what has been addressed to this point. How difficult is it to write a lot when you're writing in the manner in which Dave does? . . .
I didn't leave the recent discussion with Dave. He did. I'm going to continue responding to his material. Ask yourself how well his claims about Papias, the canon at Nicaea, development of doctrine, and other subjects have held up so far. And note how well his claims hold up as I continue to respond to them.
Comrade-in-arms and master insulter Steve Hays fell right in line with the talking points too:
The problem with Armstrong’s response is that he didn’t offer a point-by-point reply. Rather, he offered a point-by-pointless reply.]
Anti-Catholic apologist Bishop James White has long advocated the superiority of oral over written debate. I have disagreed with him on that from Day One. Though he thinks I am a clueless imbecile (as he states innumerable times), yet he has challenged me to formal oral debate at least three times: in 1995, 2001, and 2007 (I always refuse on principle, based on my reasoning regarding the serious flaws of oral debate in his sense of the word).
One has to ask why he desires a debate opponent whom he considers to be a witless dunce? Doesn't it make sense to pursue the most worthy opponents, rather than the ones one thinks the least of? So his bluster furiously contradicts his supposed debate prowess. I don't buy it, and few others do, either, once they know all the facts of the matter.
I think written debate is superior in many, many (indeed most) respects. But on one point of suggested superiority of the oral, formally moderated medium (with prearranged format), I have to agree with White. In that scenario, a person is forced to answer questions, and cannot evade them. He has to give some sort of answer.
If it is bad and unprepared, the debater can potentially look rather ridiculous (and instances of this by the Catholics in White's many debates, are, no doubt, a great motivation for him, and a source of endless taunting and boorish chest-puffing behavior). Of course, White no doubt, has his own numerous instances of insufficient or embarrassing replies in oral debate (he never discusses those), and also innumerable evasions and wholesale ignoring of opponents in written debate and fleeing for the hills (especially with me), but we won't get into that at the moment. He is a writer, too, after all, with voluminous posts and many books to his name.
Anyway, in written exchanges, the other person can't be forced by rules and on-the-spot audience "social pressure" to answer any given question. And we see how Jason has conveniently used this "loophole" to evade large portions of my arguments, so that it was not ever a true debate to begin with (precisely why I am now done with it: I refuse to participate in an ongoing double standard: two contrary sets of rules). I answered all of his arguments in some fashion (whether poorly or well is for readers to decide). He ignored 87.5% of mine. And he has always done this, back when I regularly debated anti-Catholics (not necessarily in that proportion, but always to some significant degree).
It's interesting, then, to apply fellow anti-Catholic James White's aversion to folks who want to evade the intellectual responsibility of answering all questions thrown at them, to this scenario, and to Jason Engwer. Note, for example, how Bishop White makes the following remark at my expense:
Armstrong continues to refuse to debate man to man in person, and wishes only to hide behind his keyboard where he knows that no one, and I mean no one, can possibly force him to answer a direct question. As long as you can use the written forum, you can avoid the very essence of debate, the heart of debate, which is answering direct questions that test your position for consistency. Armstrong knows he is simply constitutionally incapable of the task, but he refuses to admit it, . . .
White is right about people not being forced to answer questions in debate, in written form. I just went through that with Jason Engwer. He's wrong, of course, about my willingness to do so. I challenged him twice to a live chat room debate, with big time handicaps in his favor: the second being in a double cross-examination format. He wanted no part of that. Why? Because he would have to answer whatever questions I asked him (!). And (quite ironically, given his above remarks) he avoids that prospect like the Bubonic Plague.
In point of fact, the live chat includes the social pressure of the oral debate, because people are there observing (and there would be plenty in a match-up of myself and White). It was the cowardice of White and five of his anti-Catholic comrades: all refusing to do a live chat room debate like this, on the question of definition of "Christian" that made me decide (over two years ago now) I had had more than enough of attempted rational discussion with anti-Catholics. The cowardice (despite bragging claims to the contrary) and the unwillingness to even discuss the most fundamental issues, were the clincher.
I made an exception in the last few weeks for Engwer because of a struggling Catholic apologist who cited one of Jason's papers as a reason why he started having doubts; but we see what happened: 87.5% of my arguments were ignored, so that the "dialogue" became a farce and running double standard. I won't tolerate that ridiculous state of affairs; sorry Jason. It's an insult to my intelligence and that of my readers. But I don't regret trying to help a fellow apologist (and others) see through Jason's errors, that run rampant through his apologetic posts.
Bishop White has often, through the years, mentioned this motif, over and over, of folks "hiding behind their keyboards." By that he means exactly what we see in his words above: he charges them with being afraid to answer direct questions. I obviously wasn't afraid in this way with Jason. I answered everything he threw out. But he answered 12.5% of my arguments. Therefore, Jason was (by White's criterion) "hiding behind his keyboard," by refusing to answer tons and tons of stuff. I did not. Here are other White utterances along these lines:
Meanwhile, tomorrow morning, 11am PDT is another chance for ol' Doug C. or CatholicDude or GAssisi or any of the other "My I am brave behind a keyboard but please, please, please don't ask me to actually defend my slanderous writings since I can't really do that and I know it" folks to back up their claims in the only venue that matters: one where the truth can be told. The number is 877-753-3341. I'll be here, waiting. (4-11-05)
. . . you will never see Enloe facing myself or Eric Svendsen or David King or anyone else in public. This kind of bravado only exists behind a keyboard that is located in the wilderness of Idaho: ... (9-7-05)
Today I discussed the recent explosion of anti-Calvinism on the part of various Lutherans like Paul McCain and Josh S. [Strodtbeck], and gave them the opportunity to defend their bravado behind a keyboard. They declined, of course. One Lutheran did call, . . . (12-6-05)
Dr. Stauffer: Brave Behind the Keyboard, Unwilling to Defend His Assertions [title] (3-25-06)
It is so odd that folks will accuse me of being "brave behind the keyboard" when I host a program twice a week with a toll free number, and when I challenge them to put feet to their accusations, well, all of a sudden they are so very busy whenever the DL is on, they just can't pick up that phone! (6-19-06)
The Internet creates "thugs," bullies with a lot of hot air but zero substance who thrive on acting out their childhood playground fantasies from behind a keyboard. (3-13-07)
So I'd like to add Mr. Hoffer's name to the list of folks I am inviting to call The Dividing Line so as to give them the opportunity of doing what any honest person must do who has made public accusations against me: step up and back up what these men are willing to say from behind the relative anonymity of the keyboard. (7-15-07)
What an incredible example of why written debates are only worthwhile if both sides are committed to the ultimate and highest level of clarity and perspecuity. [Paul] Hoffer has provided a wonderful example of why cross-examination is necessary (and why he won't call, obviously), for if he were to try such an obvious trick live, on the air, or in a debate, he would be challenged, and stopped, right then and there. (7-16-07)
Phil [Porvaznik] has a major problem standing up and being counted when he is challenged to do something more than sit behind a keyboard. He won't do debates, won't call in to programs where he would be challenged, etc. (11-14-07)
Armstrong knows he only has one "safe" place in this world, behind his keyboard: he will never, ever venture out in the real world to face those he so confidently mocks in real debate. (7-11-08)
. . . the small cadre of hypers [Hyper-Calvinists] out there, some of whom live behind a keyboard. (11-8-08)
There are far too many folks who hide behind a keyboard on web forums . . . (2-3-09)
Those who have not been on the frontlines find it amenable to sit in their comfy computer chairs and opine away at the keyboard. They know they will never be called upon to present a consistent defense of the faith, especially in the face of competing world religions. (3-18-09)
Jason's deliberate policy of ignoring most of his opponent's arguments goes way back, as I have mentioned. For example, I complained in a "dialogue" of ours in February 2002 (see if this sounds familiar):
My job as an apologist would be a piece of cake if I concluded that all other arguments were without any merit; not even worth spending any time at all on. I could sit on my hands all day and revel in the superiority and unbreakable strength of my own position. That's very easy.
If, however, Jason wishes to truly be acknowledged as an able apologist and respectable critic of the Catholic viewpoint, he will have to, at some time in the future, decide to engage opponents' arguments in the depth which is required to qualify as a true, comprehensive rebuttal, as opposed to merely spewing out rhetoric, far too many topic-switching non sequiturs, and subtle mockery. He is even claimed to be an expert on the papacy on the prominent contra-Catholic website where he is now an associate researcher. But if he refuses to adequately interact with my material (e.g., tons of citations in my last exchange with him, from Protestant scholars on Peter, which he has pretty much ignored in terms of direct interaction), I certainly won't spend any more of my time in the future interacting with his writing, because I am interested in dialogue, not mutual monologue.
Here's yet another documented instance of Jason's intellectual cowardice and wholesale ignoring of arguments, from a paper of mine, written on 30 September 2003:
VII. Jason Engwer's Systematic Ignoring of Protestant Scholarly Support for Catholic Petrine Arguments
To illustrate very concretely how Jason constantly ignores my arguments (even when I cite reputable Protestant scholars -- indeed, some of the very best -- , such as France, Carson, Dunn, and Bruce), here are the eleven Protestant scholars and standard reference works (plus the ancient Church historian Eusebius) which I cited in favor of my arguments in some fashion, in my last reply to Jason on this topic:F. F. BruceWith modern computer technology, it is easy to do a word search of a document. So (just out of curiosity -- though I pretty much knew the answer), I thought I would search Jason's last reply to me (the paper I am now counter-responding to, and his reply to the paper above, with those scholars in it), "A Pauline Papacy", to see if he ever mentions any of these scholars and works (after all, it's quite difficult to respond to something if one doesn't mention it at all). Sure enough, it was a clean sweep: not a single one appears in Jason's paper.
New Bible Dictionary
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary
Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church
J. B. Lightfoot
R. C. Sproul
Jason is clearly not interested in dialogue and interaction with his opponents. He cares not a whit about their arguments; he shows scarcely any consideration or respect for them at all; they are merely fodder for his ongoing effort to make Catholic positions (i.e., his caricatures of them) look farcical and ridiculous. This is exactly the opposite of my approach. I deeply, passionately believe in dialogue as a way to arrive at truth. I believe in interacting with opponents comprehensively and trying to, in fact, see if I can overthrow my own arguments by seeking the best critics of them. I am a Socratic; I think that this is an excellent way to sharpen one's critical faculties and to arrive at truth and new understanding.
If there remains any doubt about how Jason conducts his apologetics endeavors with opponents, let's do the same search in Jason's paper, Dave Armstrong and Development of Doctrine, which was in turn a response to my paper, Dialogue on the Nature of Development of Doctrine (Particularly With Regard to the Papacy). In the latter, I cited the following 41 non-Catholic scholars and works:William BarclayA search in Jason's "reply," entitled Dave Armstrong and Development of Doctrine, yielded a second clean sweep: again, none of the 41 sources were ever mentioned. Well, actually he did mention D. A. Carson once, but with regard to another work of his in support of some contention; Jason didn't respond to my citation of Carson. It's easy to understand, then, why Jason issued a disclaimer at the outset of his "response." One must admire, at least (in a certain perverse sense), even marvel, at the chutzpah of a person who would deliberately ignore all that massive documented scholarship and then describe what he is willingly passing over in his "reply" as follows:
Protestant Expositor's Bible Commentary
Wycliffe Bible Commentary
R. C. Sproul
C. F. Keil
William F. Albright
Robert McAfee Brown
R. T. France
D. A. Carson
New Bible Dictionary
D. W. O'Connor
C. S. Mann
Peake's Bible Commentary on the Bible
John Meyendorff (Orthodox)
St. Gregory Palamas (Orthodox)
Gennadios Scholarios (Orthodox)
Craig L. Blomberg
Andrew R. Fausset
T. W. Manson
Eerdmans Bible Dictionary
Eerdmans Bible Commentary
Theological Dictionary of the New Testament
F. F. Bruce
Vladimir Solovyev (Orthodox)In replying to Dave Armstrong's article addressed to me, I'm not going to respond to every subject he raised. He said a lot about John Newman, George Salmon, James White, etc. that's either irrelevant to what I was arguing or is insignificant enough that I would prefer not to address it.I need not waste more of my time searching additional Engwer papers. The point is now well-established.