Thursday, January 14, 2010

Papias, Scripture, and Tradition (Round Two): Exchange with Anti-Catholic Apologist Jason Engwer / Sadly Typical End of Discourse

By Dave Armstrong (1-14-10)

I am replying to his current paper, "Where Are 'Apostolic Succession' And 'Authoritative Tradition' In Papias?". Jason's words will be in blue. My previous words that he cites will be in green.

* * * * *

Catholics believe there was one rule of faith that consistently developed. It is what we call the 'three-legged stool': Scripture-Church-Tradition (as passed down by apostolic succession).

When Papias spoke with the daughters of Philip (Eusebius, Church History, 3:39), for example, were they giving him information by means of "apostolic succession"?

I would think that was a manifestation of it, yes: transmission of firsthand apostolic information through another party (in this case, daughters of an apostle).

Dave hasn't given us any reason to think that Papias attained his oral tradition by that means.

What means? If he was talking to Philip's daughters, that was part of the tradition. What else would it be? Homer's Odyssey? Betting on chariot races? It's primitive Christian apostolic tradition being passed down: "delivered" and "received," just as St. Paul uses those terms. Jason can't get out of the obvious fact by nitpicking and doing the "death by a thousand qualifications" game that he has honed to a fine art.

To the contrary, as Richard Bauckham documents in his book I cited earlier, Papias refers to the sort of investigation of early sources that was common in the historiography of his day, and we don't assume the involvement of apostolic succession when other ancient sources appeal to that concept.

The two are not mutually exclusive at all. Now, routine historiographical investigation (because of historical proximity to the apostles), is pit against tradition, as if one rules out the other. The NT is good history; it is also good tradition. The twain shall meet: believe it or not.

Why should we even think that what Papias was addressing was a rule of faith?

He demonstrated the rule of faith in how he approached all these matters. This is how he lived his Christianity: his standard of authority. That's the rule of faith. Nothing about Scripture Alone here: even Jason admits that, because he accepts a "herky-jerky" notion of the rule of faith being one thing early on and then magically transforming into something else later on. That's not development; it is reversal: the very opposite of development.

When he attained information about a resurrection or some other miracle that occurred, for example, why should we conclude that such oral tradition became part of Papias' rule of faith once he attained it?

Why should any Christian believe anything that he hears (from the Bible or whatever)? Why should Papias believe Philip's daughters or other close associates of the apostles? Why should Jason question everything to death? Why can't he simply accept these things in faith? Why does he have to play around with every father he can find, to somehow make them out to be hostile to Catholicism (if not quite amenable to Protestantism)? Why can't he see the forest for the trees? Why does he keep arguing about Papias, when even he admits that he didn't abide by sola Scriptura? Why doesn't he then explain why the rule of faith supposedly changed? Why doesn't he show us from Scripture that it was to change later on? If he can't do that, then why does he believe it? Would it not, then, be a mere tradition of men? If Protestants can arbitrarily believe in extrabiblical traditions of men, then why do they give Catholics a hard time for believing traditions that are documented in the Bible itself?

See, I can play Jason's "ask 1000 questions routine: to muddy the whole thing up beyond all hope of resolution" game. I came up with twelve rapid-fire questions. I'm proud of myself! It's kind o' fun, actually, but you do have to type quite a bit and strain your brain to come up with a new hundred questions for any given topic at hand, so that nothing can ever be concluded, as to any given Church father believing anything. Of course I rhetorically exaggerate, but I trust that those who have been following this, get my drift.

Cardinal Newman himself describes Jason's overly skeptical methodology, hitting the nail on the head:

It seems to me to take the true and the normal way of meeting the infidelity of the age, by referring to Our Lord's Person and Character as exhibited in the Gospels. Philip said to Nathanael "Come and see"—that is just what the present free thinkers will not allow men to do. They perplex and bewilder them with previous questions, to hinder them falling under the legitimate rhetoric of His Divine Life, of His sacred words and acts. They say: "There is no truth because there are so many opinions," or "How do you know that the Gospels are authentic?" "How do you account for Papias not mentioning the fourth Gospel?" or "How can you believe that punishment is eternal?" or, "Why is there no stronger proof of the Resurrection?" With this multitude of questions in detail, they block the way between the soul and its Saviour, and will not let it "Come and see."

(Letter of 11 January 1873, in Wilfred Ward's The Life of John Henry Cardinal Newman, Vol. II, chapter 31, p. 393)

I'm not saying Jason is skeptical of Jesus. It is an analogical point. He applies the same method that the skeptics Newman describes, use: only applied to patristic questions.

Some of his oral traditions would be part of his rule of faith, but not all of them.

Probably so (but this is self-evident). I didn't see anyone (let alone myself) making a literal list of what is and what isn't.

Dave is appealing to what Papias said about oral tradition in general, but Catholicism doesn't teach that all oral tradition within Papias' historiographic framework is part of the rule of faith.

Correct. All we're saying is that his methodology does not fit into the Protestant rule of faith. Why is this still being discussed when Jason has already conceded that, and has moved on to another tack in trying to account for that fact?

When Papias uses the historiographic language of his day to refer to oral tradition, including traditions that wouldn't be part of a Christian rule of faith and premillennial traditions, for example, it's misleading for Dave to cite Papias' comments as a reference to his rule of faith and claim that he agreed with Catholicism.

At this early stage, there will be anomalies and vague things. Newman's theory incorporates those elements within itself. Hence he writes in his Essay on Development of the "Fifth Note of a True Development—Anticipation of Its Future":

It has been set down above as a fifth argument in favour of the fidelity of developments, ethical or political, if the doctrine from which they have proceeded has, in any early stage of its history, given indications of those opinions and practices in which it has ended. Supposing then the so-called Catholic doctrines and practices are true and legitimate developments, and not corruptions, we may expect from the force of logic to find instances of them in the first centuries. And this I conceive to be the case: the records indeed of those times are scanty, and we have little means of determining what daily Christian life then was: we know little of the thoughts, and the prayers, and the meditations, and the discourses of the early disciples of Christ, at a time when these professed developments were not recognized and duly located in the theological system; yet it appears, even from what remains, that the atmosphere of the Church was, as it were, charged with them from the first, and delivered itself of them from time to time, in this way or that, in various places and persons, as occasion elicited them, testifying the presence of a vast body of thought within it, which one day would take shape and position.

We find exactly this sort of thing in Papias. His view is consistent with a Catholic one, that would be far more developed as time proceeded; but not consistent with the Protestant sola Scriptura.

Therefore, Papias could indeed have lived by sola Scriptura as the rule of faith. There is no compelling reason to think that he could not have done so, simply due to his living in a very early period of Christian history.

The question is whether he should have, and I'm not aware of any reason why an adherent of sola scriptura ought to think so.

How about the existence of the Old Testament? Or is that no longer considered Scripture by Protestants these days, or adherents of sola Scriptura. We'll have to start calling it sola NT, huh? How about the Gospels and most of Paul's letters, which were accepted as canonical very early: well within Papias' lifetime?

Papias was at least a contemporary of the apostles, and, as I'll discuss in more depth below, most likely was a disciple of one of the apostles as well.

That's not what Eusebius stated. But even if he was, no problem whatever, because I showed (following Eusebius' account) how he also accepted tradition from secondhand witnesses, and that St. Paul refers to fourth-hand reception of apostolic tradition. But of course, that is a part of my paper that Jason conveniently overlooked, per his standard modus operandi of high (and very careful) selectivity in response. We mustn't get too biblical in our analyses, after all. Here is my section (to refresh Jason's memory; perhaps he didn't see it) where I provided St. Paul's approach to tradition (inspired Scripture, after all):

St. Paul, after all, was not an eyewitness of the life of Jesus (though he did have a post-Resurrection encounter with him that remains possible to this day). Yet he feels that he can authoritatively pass on Christian apostolic traditions (1 Cor 11:2, 23; 15:3; 2 Thess 2:15; 3:6, 14). Thus, whoever learned Christian truths from St. Paul did not receive them from an eyewitness. Paul had to talk to someone like Peter to get firsthand accounts (or Bauckham's "oral history").

He was passing on what he himself had "received" from yet another source (1 Cor 11:23; 15:3; Phil 4:9; 1 Thess 2:13). He even specifically instructs Timothy to pass on his (oral) traditions to "faithful men," who in turn can pass them on to others (2 Tim 2:2). So just from this verse we see four generations of a passed-on tradition (Paul: the second generation, Timothy, and those whom Timothy teaches). This tradition is not even necessarily written by Paul or anyone else (Rom 10:8; Eph 1:13; 1 Thess 2:13; 2 Thess 2:15; 2 Tim 1:13-14; cf. Heb 13:7; 1 Pet 1:25). There is no indication that the chain is supposed to end somewhere down the line.

As far as I am concerned, this data alone refutes Jason's position. But he ignored it. He never mentioned Paul once in his current reply. You, the reader, don't have to ignore the Bible, and can incorporate actual relevant biblical data into your informed opinion.

I have often observed in Jason's replies, and have complained about, his method of picking and choosing what he likes (and/or is able) to reply to, thus allowing him to ignore sections that he may have difficulty answering (or where he may have to work too hard to answer, etc.). The present effort is no exception. I thought it was time (especially since Engwer comrade "Whopper" "Whopper" Hays has accused me of systematically avoiding answering Jason), to document the actual objective facts of how much he ignores in any given writing of an opponent that he is grappling with.

The number of words in my previous reply (minus my citations of Jason's words and re-citations of my own past words from his reply; i.e., I am adding up only the black-colored words; also, I skip the final section that was responding to other critics) was 4002.

Jason in this present reply only cites, however, 489 of my own words from the last paper, in order to launch into his present counter-reply.

So we see that he has deliberately chosen to deal with a mere 12% of the total words of my argument: skipping huge, essential parts of it altogether, as if they weren't even there. But I have included and dealt with all of his words and offered some sort of substantive reply (agree or disagree) to all of them, here, and in all five previous papers. I grant my opponents the respect of at least dealing with their total argument, not conveniently skipping over anything and everything that I arbitrarily prejudge as not worthy of reply (or too difficult or embarrassing to reply to). Now, which method is the more impressive and intellectually solid of the two: comprehensiveness or hyper-selectivity?

But Jason dissents from his colleagues and wants to play the game of having a relativistic rule of faith: not in play from the beginning of Christianity, but only set in motion later. This allows him to play the further game of denying that Papias' views are consistent with Catholic dogma and our rule of faith, while not having any responsibility of showing that it is consistent with a Protestant view.

Dave keeps accusing me of "playing games", being "relativistic", etc. without justifying those charges.

Right. I gave an elaborate argument, point-by-point, just as I am doing now.

The fact that my view allows me to point to inconsistencies between Papias and Catholicism without having to argue that Papias adhered to sola scriptura doesn't prove that my view is wrong.

That's right, but Jason has failed in his attempt to prove that anything in Papias is fundamentally at odds with the Catholic view on the rule of faith. Where has he done this? It just isn't there. I haven't seen it. Maybe Jason will travel to Israel and find a new stone tablet that seals his case: primary evidence. Anything is possible. I'd urge him to keep optimistic and not to despair: something, somewhere may prove his anti-Catholic case vis-a-vis Papias once and for all. I won't hold my breath waiting for it, though . . .

I've given examples of other transitional phases in history, during which the rule of faith changed for individuals or groups. Dave said that he agreed with "many, if not all of these points", but then accused me of "relativism" and such when I applied the same sort of reasoning to Papias. Why?

I don't know. I'd have to go back and see what I said, in context. I'm too lazy to do that (doin' enough work as it is). But I know that I already adequately explained it, so I recommend that he go read it again (so that he doesn't need to ask me what I meant).

What was in common was that all accepted 'the word of God' (both written and oral) as normative for the Christian faith, but not in the sense of sola Scriptura.

To say that everybody from Adam to Mary to Papias to Dave Armstrong followed the same rule of faith, defined vaguely as "the word of God", is to appeal to something different than the "Scripture-Church-Tradition (as passed down by apostolic succession)" that Dave referenced earlier.

Here we go with the word games . . . As Ronald Reagan famously said to Jimmy Carter, "there you go again . . ." I was referring, of course, to the Christian era, not Adam and Eve, etc.

Adam and Eve didn't have scripture or a magisterium.

Very good observation, Jason! But who needs apostles or Scripture, anyway, when you're able to talk directly to God?

Even under Dave's view, a change eventually occurred in which the word of God was communicated by a means not previously used. The sort of direct communication God had with Adam isn't part of the average Catholic's rule of faith today.

Exactly. What this has to do with anything is beyond me, I confess.

A Protestant could say that the rule of faith has always been "the word of God", and thus claim consistency in the same sort of vague manner in which Dave is claiming it.

No, because Protestants tend to collapse "word of God" to Scripture alone, when in fact, in Scripture, it refers, many more times, to oral proclamation. This is the whole point: Scripture all over the place refers to an authoritative tradition and an authoritative Church. Scripture doesn't teach that it alone is the infallible authority. Sola Scriptura ain't biblical.

He seems to be trying (by repeated, almost mantra-like emphasis) to undermine a Catholic notion of oral tradition without saying so in so many words.

I don't know how familiar Dave is with Richard Bauckham and his work. Bauckham isn't interacting with Catholicism in the passage of his book that I cited. As far as I recall, he never even mentions Catholicism anywhere in the book, at least not in any significant way. Bauckham is a New Testament scholar interacting primarily with other New Testament scholars and scholars of other relevant fields.

Great. I interacted with his arguments, and saw some inconsistencies in them. Implicitly he is opposing, in a way, those Christian traditions that stress tradition, in his pitting of oral history against oral tradition, as I already noted. I say it is "both/and" -- not "either/or."

How in the world that is construed as somehow contrary to Catholic tradition is, I confess, beyond me.

Papias' position wouldn't have to be contrary to the Catholic position in order to be different than it. If Papias can take a transitional role under the Catholic view, in which he attains his rule of faith partly by means of the historical investigation he describes, then why can't he take a transitional role under a Protestant view?

His position shows no semblance of a Protestant view in the first place, but it is not at all contrary, or even different from the Catholic view. It's simply a primitive Catholic rule of faith: exhibiting exactly what we would expect to see under the assumption of Newmanian, Vincentian development.

We know that he collected eyewitness testimony. We don't know that he would say that was the only tradition that was legitimate.

I didn't claim that we know the latter. Remember, Dave is the one who claims that Papias was a Catholic, cited him in support of "oral tradition" (in a dispute with an Evangelical and without further qualification), etc.

Until we see anything that suggests otherwise, which we haven't, that is a perfectly solid position to take.

His testimony was third-hand. He 'he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their [the apostles'] friends.' What is that if not succession?

Why should we define apostolic succession so vaguely as to include "the apostles' friends"? In the same passage of Eusebius Dave is citing, Papias is quoted referring to these people as "followers" of the apostles. Many people, including individuals outside of a church hierarchy, can be considered friends or followers of the apostles. And, as I said above, the historiographic concept Papias is appealing to doesn't limit itself to apostolic successors or an equivalent category in its normal usage. Why think, then, that the concept has such a meaning when Papias uses it?

How is what he did contrary to apostolic succession? It isn't at all. Papias was a bishop, who received Christian tradition from friends or relatives of the apostles. This ain't rocket science. There is nothing complicated about it: much as Jason wants to obfuscate.

Dave originally claimed that "we find an explicit espousal of apostolic succession" in Papias. He still hasn't documented that assertion.

Of course I have. Here is what I said the second time around (his past words in purple):

Contrary to what Dave claims, there is no "explicit espousal of apostolic succession" in Papias. And the "living and abiding voice" Papias refers to is a reference to proximate and early testimony that was soon going to die out.

This doesn't rule out apostolic succession; to the contrary, it is a perfect example of it. He talked to people who knew the apostles. His testimony was third-hand. He "received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their [the apostles'] friends." What is that if not succession? It is more or less independent of Scripture. Papias' rule of faith was:

Apostles and apostolic doctrine --- friends of the apostles --- Papias

But the Protestant methodology and rule of faith is:

Apostles and apostolic doctrine --- Scripture --- Papias and everyone else

The theme Papias is referring to is taken from, among other sources, the historiography of his day. As Bauckham notes, Jerome's rendering of the passage in Papias indicates that he understood Papias as Bauckham does (pp. 27-28).

He says that Jerome understood Papias as referring to access to living witnesses as his preferred mode of collecting information. But as I have already shown, I think, this in no way is inconsistent with Catholic tradition. It's plain common sense. What Jason doesn't mention, however, is Bauckham's observation right after citing Jerome, translating Papias:

Jerome here seems to take Papias to mean that he preferred the oral communication of eyewitnesses to the written records of their testimony in the Gospels.

(p. 28)

And that sounds distinctly unProtestant and contrary to sola Scriptura, doesn't it? If we're gonna mention one aspect of St. Jerome's thought (even if it is falsely thought to bolster some anti-Catholic line of reasoning), why not the other also, even if it doesn't fit in with the game plan? Get the whole picture, in other words.

This is another annoying constant in debates with anti-Catholics: one is forced to simply repeat things three, four, five times or more, because the anti-Catholic seems unable to process them, even after five times. It's as if one is writing to the wind. Three strikes and you're out.

Again, the trouble with this is that Eusebius specifically says (twice) that Papias only knew friends of the apostles: not they themselves. So one of [Bauckham's] key premises is unfactual.

Dave makes that point repeatedly in his article. But Richard Bauckham argues against Eusebius' position elsewhere in the book I've cited. I've argued against Eusebius' conclusion as well. See, for example, here.

Earlier, I cited an online collection of fragments by and about Papias. Eusebius' dubious argument that Papias wasn't a disciple of any of the apostles is contradicted by multiple other sources, including Irenaeus more than a century earlier (a man who had met Polycarp, another disciple of John). Some of the sources who commented on Papias when his writings were still extant said that he was even a (or the) secretary who wrote the fourth gospel at John's dictation. Eusebius wasn't even consistent with himself on the issue of whether Papias had been taught by John. See the citation from Eusebius' Chronicon on the web page linked above. The only source I'm aware of who denied Papias' status as a disciple of the apostles, Eusebius, wasn't even consistent on the issue. The evidence suggests that Papias was a disciple of the apostle John.

Fair enough. But if we grant this, of course it has no effect on my position: that his views are consistent with the Catholic rule of faith. Either way, it works the same: if he knew the apostles, it was apostolic succession (just more directly). If he didn't, it was still apostolic succession, since that is an ongoing phenomenon. Moreover, as I reiterated again above, Paul refers to apostolic succession from fourth-hand sources. So it is valid apart from necessarily knowing an apostle personally. And knowing one does not, therefore, rule out apostolic succession. It is completely harmonious with it.

Bauckham appears to contradict himself...Which is it?: Eyewitnesses or those who knew eyewitnesses? Once one starts going down the chain to third-hand, fourth-hand or later generations of witnesses, one is squarely within oral tradition. It's something other than eyewitness testimony.

No, Bauckham explains, in the section of his book I cited, that though eyewitnesses were the primary source of interest, other early sources were involved as well. Even if you disagree with the historiographic standard in question, the fact remains that Papias was appealing to that standard. It involved witnesses who would quickly die out rather than going into the "fourth-hand or later generations" Dave refers to. Even apart from that ancient historiographic standard, it makes sense to differentiate between a source who's one step removed and other sources who are five, twenty, or a thousand steps removed.

St. Paul didn't think so, as I have shown: not in terms of accurate transmission of apostolic tradition.

We don't place all non-eyewitnesses in the same category without making any distinctions. Why are we today so focused on the writings of men like Tertullian and John Chrysostom rather than modern oral traditions about them?

We go back as far as we can, and we do make judgments as to relative trustworthiness of sources.

In other words, the traditions that he [Ignatius] teaches are rejected, no matter how proximate they are to the apostles.

Like Dave's rejection of Papias' premillennial tradition, the soteriological tradition of Hermas (his belief in limited repentance), etc.?

What St. Ignatius taught (real presence, episcopacy, etc.) was universal in the early Church, unlike the two things above. Huge, essential difference, but nice try, Jason. The arguments get increasingly desperate. My friend, Jonathan Prejean, made a great comment today on another blog, that has relevance here:

What I would find far more troubling, were I a Protestant, is the new patristics scholarship of the last 40 years, which convincingly demonstrates that, while giving nominal adherence to the ecumencial creeds, Protestants have done so according to the same defective interpretation as the heretics. The modest claims of papal authority, which in any case are not refuted by what you cited (and I've read them), are trivial compared to the fact that the Protestant account of salvation and grace is fundamentally opposed to the Christian account of the Seven Ecumenical Councils. The physical presence (i.e., real presence according to nature) of God in the Church and its necessity for salvation is unanimously agreed by all Catholic and Orthodox Christians, echoing St. Cyril of Alexandria, the great "Seal of the Fathers." Yet Protestants deny it, making the spiritual resemblance to God merely moral (hence, imputed justification) and not physical.

That's a Nestorian account of salvation, plain and simple. And the historical evidence about the heterodoxy of Nestorianism has been piling up over the last couple of decades (see, e.g., J.A. McGuckin, Paul Clayton) after some scholarship suggesting that Nestorius might have been orthodox (mostly based on Nestorius's own erroneous claims; see, e.g., F. Loofs), and therefore, that Calvin's identical beliefs might have been as well. But that has been crushed even more convincingly than the admittedly excessive claims of some Catholics about papal infallibility, and it is a much more serious error in any case. This is why I stopped even bothering with these debates, at least until I saw David [Waltz] wavering, because Newman's prophetic words about being "deep in history" were absolutely vindicated by the neo-patristic scholarship. Protestants today have no hope of being orthodox in the historical sense; they have to redefine orthodoxy to be broad enough to include what they believe (see, e.g., D.H. Williams).

St. Ignatius (c. 35 - c. 110) was born a generation earlier than Papias. He may possibly have known St. John, or known of him through St. Polycarp (c. 69 - c. 155). But does that impress Protestants? No; not if they are intent on rejecting any doctrine that has the slightest 'Catholic' flavor in it.

Ignatius' earliness is significant to me. I often cite him and often refer to the significance of his earliness. But I prefer the more accurate interpretation of Ignatius offered by an Ignatian scholar like Allen Brent to the interpretation of somebody like Dave Armstrong.

Great. J. N. D. Kelly (also an Anglican patristics scholar) thought that St. Ignatius "seems to suggest that the Roman church occupies a special position" (Early Christian Doctrines, 1978, 191). Brent writes (cited by Jason in his linked previous paper):

Ignatius doesn't make any reference to apostolic succession as later defined by men like Irenaeus and Cyprian and by groups like Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy.

This is exactly what we would expect under a thesis of development. Obviously he wouldn't write as explicitly about apostolic succession as it was "later defined." This poses no difficulty for us whatever. It is only a difficulty if one (as Jason habitually does) constructs a straw man of what Catholic development in the late first and early second century supposedly was (far more developed than we should reasonably expect).

The primitive state of development that we expect to find in St. Ignatius is reflected in a Brent remark such as "The low Trinitarianism in Ignatius' letters supports an early date." He also had a "low ecclesiology" because he was so early. But even Jason agrees (in the same former post) that St. Ignatius already in his time had a rather robust Catholic ecclesiology:

I agree with Brent that Ignatius seems to have been trying to convince other churches to adopt or retain his preferred form of church order, involving a monarchical episcopate, thus explaining why he mentions the subject so much in his letters. However, I suspect that the monarchical episcopate was already more widespread than Brent suggests. The truth probably is somewhere between Brent's concept of Ignatius as an innovator and the view that all of the early churches had a monarchical episcopate all along. (Brent prefers not to use the term "monarchical episcopate" when discussing Ignatius' view, but I'm using it in a broad sense, which I think is more common, to refer to having a single bishop who leads the remainder of the church hierarchy.)

It's perfectly consistent with our notion, and we continue to think oral tradition is authoritative, whereas Protestants have ditched it: in direct contrast to what the fathers thought about such things.

Catholics "ditched" the approach of Papias long ago. They don't appeal to an oral tradition attained by means of historical investigation,

It's tough to meet associates of the apostles these days; sorry, Jason. If he builds me a time machine, I'd be more than happy to go talk to them. Probably couldn't afford a ticket, though . . .

without the mediation of the Catholic hierarchy acting in its infallible capacity, and they don't think that their oral tradition is soon going to die out, as Papias' "living and abiding voice" was about to.

The tradition continues being accurately transmitted after the eyewitnesses die out, as St. Paul believed. That's sufficient for me. Jason prefers Brent to me; I prefer St. Paul's opinion on tradition and succession to his.

My goal was to show that Papias is not a counter-example to Catholic tradition.

No, Dave went further than that. He said that we find in Papias "an explicit espousal of apostolic succession and authoritative tradition". He also refers to the fathers in general as Catholic, which presumably would include Papias.

Yes on both counts, as explained. But the word "explicit" was relative insofar as someone that early can only be so explicit. "Direct" would have been a better term to use in retrospect, because of the meaning of "explicit" in discussions having to do with development of doctrine. I trusted that readers acquainted with the broad parameters of the discussion would understand that, but sure enough, Jason didn't, and so keeps trying to make hay over this non-issue. No doubt he will classify this very paragraph as special pleading or sophistry, but most readers will understand that it is simply clarification of a phrase used.

I don't believe in that [premillennialism] (used to), but the Catholic Church has not proclaimed many eschatological beliefs as dogma. Our position is not to uncritically accept any given father's view on anything, but to look at the consensus.

If Dave doesn't accept Papias' premillennial oral traditions, and he's identifying Papias' oral traditions as part of the rule of faith followed by Papias, then it follows that Papias' rule of faith involved a doctrine that Dave rejects.

But since that particular belief isn't a dogmatic one in the first place, it is quite irrelevant. No Catholic is obliged to believe it, or much of anything else in eschatology, as I understand. No one is saying that any given father is infallible, so if he is wrong on that one item, this causes no problem to our view.

Was premillennialism part of the rule of faith in Papias' generation, but not today? Did Papias follow a different rule of faith than others in his generation? Would that qualify as "relativism"?

He got some things wrong. So what? One could collect a huge bucket of seaweed and other marine items from the sea and discover that a pearl was also part of the collection. The pearl is "transmitted" along with the rest. Not everything in the bucket is equally valuable. Again, this is no problem for us whatever. The real problem is Protestant rejection of beliefs virtually universally held by the fathers, such as, for example, the real presence or baptismal regeneration.

If Dave wants to argue that he wasn't referring to Papias' rule of faith when he made comments about "authoritative tradition" and "oral tradition" in Papias, then what's the relevance of such fallible tradition that's outside of a rule of faith? As I said before, that sort of "authoritative tradition" and "oral tradition" isn't what people normally have in mind when Catholics and Evangelicals are having a discussion like the current one, so Dave's comments were at least misleading.

Since we don't hold individual fathers to be infallible, this is much ado about nothing.

And Papias thought he got his premillennialism from the apostles. It was apostolic tradition to him. It's not to Dave.

The Church in due course makes all sorts of judgments as to what is authentic tradition and what isn't. Jason knows this, but he mistakenly thinks he has scored some sort of point here, so he runs with that ball.

How does one see a Catholic concept of apostolic succession in a phrase like "the apostles' friends" or a Catholic concept of oral tradition in a historiographic phrase like "living and abiding voice"? In much the same way one sees everything from papal infallibility to a bodily assumption of Mary in scripture and an acorn of Catholicism in the writings of the church fathers.

I have done my best to explain. I trust that open-minded readers can be persuaded of some things, and that my efforts are not in vain, in that sense.


Jason Engwer has made a third response dealing with Papias: about whom we know very little. He basically rehashes the same old arguments again, thinking that this somehow makes them less weak and ineffectual than they were before. As I mentioned above, in his prior response, Jason chose to deal with only 489 of my words out of 4,002 (or 12%, leaving 88% of the material untouched and ignored). He almost always follows the same methodology of extreme pick-and-choose and passing over anything that he is unable or unwilling to answer.

This time is no exception. He has responded to 499 of my words out of 3,775 in my last article (and I didn't include citations of him or past words of mine in the sum), for a grand total of 13%; leaving 87% unanswered and ignored. This gives us hope for the future! Let's look at the bright side: the cup is 13% full. After all, if he continues to improve by a 1% rate each time he responds, then we only need to do 87 more dialogues before he'll get up to a 100% rate of response (i.e., the total in all six of my recent replies to him).

Why don't we have some fun and flip this around for a change? My time is at least as valuable as Jason's, I suspect. It gets boring answering everything an opponent throws out, no matter how many straw men, non sequiturs, obfuscations, factual or logical errors, miscomprehensions, and repetitions are involved. So let's use Jason's method. His latest paper has 1,463 words, not counting his citations of me. Since he has responded to 12% and 13% of my words in his last two posts, I'll apply the Golden Rule and do the same to him, taking the average of the two, for a 12.5% response rate. 12.5% of 1,463 is 183 words. That should be short work. Here, then, is my latest reply:

All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and no play makes Jason a dull boy.
All work and.

Hope you liked it. If you want to see the other 87.5% of his argument that I ignored, here is the link.


If anybody wants to see Dave's reply to my article above, go to his last response linked above and scroll down to the "UPDATE" section.
Since Dave keeps bringing up the issue of how much I respond to, even including percentages of words that I quote from his articles, I'll point out some things that ought to have been obvious to Dave. The number of words quoted doesn't tell you how much of the conceptual content of another person's posts somebody has responded to. If a person's point can be conveyed in three sentences, then the other twelve sentences that introduce the point, reiterate it, etc. wouldn't need to be quoted. Or a few sentences could be quoted, followed by a response to the remainder without quoting that remainder. That's why I'll often say, for example, that I'm replying to what somebody "goes on to say" after what I've quoted. In this present reply to Dave, so far I've only quoted the word "UPDATE" from his post. Does it therefore follow that I haven't interacted with anything else? Does it follow that I've interacted with the word "UPDATE", simply because I quoted it? Dave does often quote what his opponents have said. It doesn't follow that he's interacting with all of the conceptual content of those quotes or that his opponents should quote as much as he does. It's not as though people are dependent on what I quote in order to know what Dave said. I link to his articles. And people could find those articles by other means. And while Dave keeps referring to how much of my material he responds to, keep in mind that he left a discussion with me in 2003, dismissing me as another "anti-Catholic" he didn't want to interact with. He also left a discussion with me on justification late last year (see the comments section of the thread here). In the current discussion, Dave hasn't been interacting with all of my material in the manner he describes with his citation of percentages. For example, see the first comment in the comments section of the thread here. And the eighth comment here.

I have a lot more to say in response to Dave's claims, but I'll be responding on my terms, not according to the standards he (inconsistently) demands.

[ link ]

The answer is simple. It's true that I chose not to respond to two of Jason's shorter replies. (one was merely a short introduction; big wow). That was my choice, and people make those choices all the time. But when I do respond, I do so properly and respectfully, by dealing with the complete argument of my opponent, and not ignoring 88% of it, including major points and often the very heart (or aspects closely related to the heart) of the argument of my opponent. If an argument is made, I reply to it, and show exactly why I reject it, and I also usually offer what I think is a superior alternative. Even Jason's anti-Catholic comrade Ken Temple gets it:

I hope you have time to deal with all his main points; even if he keeps requiring someone respond to almost every line; and he keeps whining about us not responding to every word and spends lots of time counting up percentages and words!

Obviously, then, even Ken, fellow anti-Catholic, and endlessly prolix preacher concerning same, (who is allowed to preach all he wants on my blog) casually assumes that not all my "main points" have been dealt with. Thanks, Ken! This is the most truthful thing you've written in months.

Jason has chosen to ignore the vast majority of my entire reply, which is now six lengthy posts altogether (each one dealing line-by-line with 100% of his material). When he did reply at some (relative) length, he chose to mostly hone in on just one small particular of the whole thing: Papias: a very early Church father that we know little about. I have devoted a good ten days now to these projects (and I already had several plans to do other pressing things). I can't spend forever going back and forth with him (i.e., 12% of the time, with the rest consisting of my writing to the wind).

The original (and sole) reason I started this as an exception to my rule of avoiding anti-Catholic inanities and runarounds and foolishness (that I have followed since October 2007) was to try to help David Waltz (a Catholic who now considers himself in "limbo") work through issues that are troubling him. But his issues now appear to be much deeper than infallibility and development, and include figuring out what orthodox trinitarianism is. Thus, even the initial motivation for this project is now gone.

Jason had his chance to engage in a real dialogue, where opponents grapple with each others' arguments comprehensively (which is actually an enjoyable challenge for those of us who love dialogue). He's certainly capable of it; there is no question about that. But he chose not to do so yet again. This has always been his methodology with me. Now, of course, since I have to get back to my usual work, having devoured ten days with this stuff (menial tasks like writing books), no doubt he will write many more papers (as he has already indicated), filled with the same fallacies and obfuscations.

Anti-Catholics always become very emboldened when they know their Catholic opponents will no longer be responding. If I ignore them, there are reams and reams of papers about my opinions or myself, as a target of endless personal insults. If I respond, 88% of my arguments are ignored, by the most able opponent (by far), while four others respond simultaneously, all expecting that I am supposed to have time to deal with five opponents at the same time. What would any sane, rational person do in that situation?

Part of the game that anti-Catholics play is precisely what you are observing now, and will see in the near future. The fact of the matter is that Jason departed and forfeited this discussion by deciding to ignore about 88% of my material and arguments. That is already not participating. He decided to end the discussion by not interacting with nine-tenths of my stated opinions. That's no longer discussion. This being the case, it never really was a dialogue at any time. It is an insult to my intelligence (and that of my readers) for me to keep laboring away day after day, spending many many hours that could be delegated to far more important tasks, seriously, carefully answering Jason, while he systematically ignores most of my arguments. Sorry; that is not good stewardship of my (or anyone's) time.

Jason is a very clever guy, for sure. He knows he can wear down any opponent by attrition and tedium, by doing exactly as he has been doing. He'll write endlessly about a relative trifle, repeating himself ad nauseum, while doing his usual extremely selective pick-and-choose thing. Then when his opponent has had enough of that and ceases participating, he can pretend that he prevailed in the overall discussion (when in fact he scarcely even entered into it), and that the Catholic ran for the hills. Isn't that ingenious? I admire the cleverness, but it is also intellectual cowardice and sheer silliness.

My posts remain up, for the possible benefit of anyone who, unlike Jason, is willing to actually enter into the thinking of both sides and compare the relative merits of the arguments. Unfortunately, since about 88% of my arguments were unopposed, readers will have to fill in the other side themselves. With the other 12%, however, they can see both arguments and decide which is more plausible, and which is on the side of truth. That's how dialogue works; how it can aid folks in working through and understanding issues, and intelligently forming opinions. It's a shame so little of it is to be had in these "exchanges." But I knew this going in. Like I said, I did this for someone else's sake, not my own. But it has value to show the fallacies of anti-Catholic thought, in any event.


Nick said...

I'm dealing with a similar situation myself (no surprise), where Hays keeps trying to disqualify my argument and my claim that his "Sola Scriptura is self-refuting" thesis was fallacious.

You have your own workload to deal with, but here is the link if you wanted to have a look:

It gets exhausting, and sadly, I believe that's something they aim for too often. It is especially troubling when Protestants don't understand the distinction between 'positive' and 'negative' proof.

Dave Armstrong said...

I'm sure you're doing a fine job. I generally don't read Hays' stuff. One gets enough sophistry from politicians.

There is no hope to ever convince him of anything (except perhaps maybe that the earth is older than 10,000 years, and even that will take a lot of doing).

SP said...

Aren't you banned from posting there? Isn't odd that they would ban you but then spend so much time writing about you?

Ken said...

Jason is right - he wrote in his response -

"The number of words quoted doesn't tell you how much of the conceptual content of another person's posts somebody has responded to."

You are focusing on counting up words and percentages and in my opinion, not using your time wisely; whereas as he is getting to the main issues and all four of us ( Jason, Turretinfan, Steve Hayes, myself) have poked enough holes in your arguments to leave you with a sunk ship. The claims of RCC infallibility and the Pope and the DD theory of Newman have been sunk.

Stick to the issues and quit focusing on number of words and percentages and analogies with the Democratic party goons of James Carville and Pelosi, etc.

Randy said...

The number of words quoted doesn't tell you how much of the conceptual content of another person's posts somebody has responded to

But does that not amount to dismissing the unreplied to portion? Now some things might be cheap shots or off topic comments. But most of Dave's reply was on topic and completely demolished Jason's thesis. So his strategy is mostly to hope nobody reads it. It is quite long. He is proably right.

whereas as he is getting to the main issues and all four of us ( Jason, Turretinfan, Steve Hayes, myself) have poked enough holes in your arguments to leave you with a sunk ship

You guys are certainly the champs at claiming victory. The trouble is your arguments are never anywhere close to what you claim. They can and have been refuted 100 times. You know it would take days to refute them again and it would do no good. You would just ignore the reply and declare victory.

Dave Armstrong said...

Aren't you banned from posting there?

I'm not banned from Triablogue, but last time I showed up there I was the target of numerous caustic personal attacks. There is no good conversation to be had.

Again, to his great credit, Jason Engwer himself refuses to participate in the personal attacks. But he seems to have no problem writing as a member on a blog where they are commonplace.

I was banned by TAO (Turretinfan), for a day, until he figured out that this was very bad PR. and reversed his decision. He still reserves the right to edit whatever I write to his liking (therefore I wouldn't dream of posting there again, because I don't bow to irrational restrictions of my freedom of [theological] expression).

Turretinfan said...

"I wouldn't dream of posting there again"

Yet hours later, you did!

"Not that your lack of consistency ever surprises me in the slightest . . ."


Dave Armstrong said...

Once again, TAO entirely misses the point. He has made a career doing that.

Dave Armstrong said...

Here is the exchange (follow TAO's link to see it). Once again, we can all marvel at the incredibly obtuse and dense nature of TAO's "understanding" of what went on here:

TAO: You may again post to my blog, if you like, even if you refuse to answer that one simple question (which was the condition of the previous "ban").There is, however, a limitation: your comments on the blog can only be comments as to the substantive matters: . . .

ME: .

TAO: So much better than the initial comment above. I like this new policy of mine.

ME: But it had no substance, so why wasn't it deleted? Not that your lack of consistency ever surprises me in the slightest . . .

TAO: LOL - you complain when you are "banned," and you complain when your ban-breaking comments aren't deleted.

Ken said...

Why did you say that was the end of the Discourse?

I missed that; just as I missed the encouragement to run from debate.

Ken said...

The new order of your articles today (Friday morning, January 22) is confusing. (and new dating of some ?) Things that were once in the front are now pushed way back away.

Took me a long time to find these.

It appears who have brought older ones up to the front and rearranged the order a little.

Ken said...

Jason says he has not given up and will continue, as time allows.

"As I said above and in another recent thread, I'll continue responding to him. I work a full-time job, one that doesn't have any close relationship to the sort of work I do for Triablogue, and I currently have mandatory overtime for that job. But I'll be replying to more of Dave's material as I have the time to do so."


So, please stop trying to guess and make a big article and take up lots of space on trying to read into things and claim that any of us has given up on the debate.

I will also keep writing as I have time; but I can choose which parts of yours to respond to; and we are under no obligation to comment on every line or thought, etc.

All we have to do is to show that infallibility of the RCC and Pope and Development of Doctrine is wrong (unbiblical and unhistorical in early church history); which we have already done adequately, all four of us have answered the main issues.

Ken said...

I finally got the time to read Turretinfan's critique of your 4 part series.

He has devastated your arguments:

Adomnan said...

Ken: I finally got the time to read Turretinfan's critique of your 4 part series.

He has devastated your arguments.

Adomnan: Shake those pom-poms, Ken.

Dave Armstrong said...

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors. I engaged Jason line-by-line six times. He has replied to roughly 12% and 13% of my arguments, ignoring 88%.

I don't play games in my dialogues. To me they are very serious. It's all about the search for truth and comparison of competing truth claims: not game-playing. If he wants to ignore most of my argumentation, obviously I am under no obligation to reply to his stuff. He decided to end real dialogue. There is nothing I can do about it. I can't force him to deal with all of my arguments if he refuses to do so. My time is valuable. I've devoted the better part of two weeks to this, only to be mostly ignored and now mocked and ridiculed.

The whole thing was merely a temporary restriction of my policy of ignoring anti-Catholic sophistry.

And now, of course, it is the usual "feeding frenzy" with all you clowns competing with each other to see who can issue the most childish insults. You and Jason refrain (and are to be commended for it), yet you are quite content to let others do it. So in the final analysis you are fellow travelers. You stand by and wink at sin and sanction it by not condemning it. NT love and ethics go out the window: presumably because you guys think Catholics are not worthy enough to be treated charitably. It's okay to lie about us and insult and act like absolute idiots (Pike's ultra-stupid so-called "satire" and Hay's repeated failed attempts at humor).

I took all the anti-Catholic garbage off of my front page (i.e., the first ten posts) because my readers have little interest in that. They were simply moved down a little: mostly around January 8th. Just go on the sidebar and look under January 2010.

My goal was to document the anti-Catholic silliness and idiotic stuff (esp. from Peter Pike), because it is its own refutation (that's always the reason why I document it, because it hurts your cause) while not bombarding serious readers with it on my front page. That sort of junk belongs mostly in its own place on the Anti-Catholicism page.

Dave Armstrong said...

Peter Pike proudly, pompously, pontificated:

"Armstrong's already "disappeared" a bunch of stuff that he posted on his own blog, and now we get to pretend it never happened (wink, wink, nudge, nudge).

"It shows his caliber anyway. He writes knee-jerk screeds condemning other people for what he does himself, and after his hypocrisy is pointed out to him he apparently feels enough guilt to obscure the evidence, but not enough to actually change his behavior."

Right. As explained in the post immediately above, I merely moved the nonsense-interaction with anti-Catholics and documentation of their follies off the front page. It's all there in the January archives.

I suppose that is too difficult for Pike to figure out: both that it was merely moved down the list of posts, and how to find it. It's always better to accuse the Catholic before even making an effort to document what happened. That way, the anti-Catholic can look like a ridiculous buffoon.

If that's how Pike wants it, it's fine with me. The more he illustrates (in his own person and pitiful rhetoric) how asinine and absurd anti-Catholicism is, the better off everyone is, because the cause of truth is furthered.

Ken said...

He has replied to roughly 12% and 13% of my arguments, ignoring 88%.

He has not ignored anything, he just hasn't had time to get to the rest of it.

I did not judge on why the recent stuff was moved, but just noticed it and finally found it.

I understand your explanation and it makes sense.

But shutting down the debate completely is what you are doing; not Jason, nor I, nor Turretinfan.

But Turretinfan deals with most of your content.

You cannot accurately just count words and say they ignored certain percentages. Sometimes you make a short comment after a long paragraph and either just dismiss it or say, "ok". Dismissing it, without argumentation, is the same as ignoring it.

The only thing you have proven is that you can type and cut and paste faster than us all - you seem to have a ready archive of stuff from whatever you can find on line, and your past articles and debates.

You have not dealt with the substantive arguments and now you seem like the one who is running from debate.

Give Jason time and he will answer you. You won't read Turretinfan or my stuff, though.

Nick said...

The way I see it, the "problem" is two mindsets approaching these issues.

The Catholic apologist mindset, in general, is one of seeking the truth, seeking the best and most fair argument, and seeking to read the opponent in the best light (so as to stay on focus and to avoid attacking a strawman).

The Protestant apologist mindset, in general, is to win the argument at whatever cost and method. Whether it's keep spinning the issue, belittle the opponent so as to smear their credibility, disqualify the opponent as soon and often as possible, and never, ever budge, regardless of how absurd or obtuse your position must become. (Not to take a jab at Ken, because he's probably a good guy, but I've seriously never seen him budge when it comes to conceding anything. When he speaks, he speaks as if there is a universal principle that the Protestant is always 100% right and the Catholic is always 100% wrong.)

That said, there are Protestant apologist out there who make an honest effort to avoid engaging in debate in that manner, while there are Catholic apologists who unfortunately sink to those levels as well.

This current exchange isn't even about Dave "holding his ground," because he's gone far beyond that, and rather about demonstrating (yet again) the very real "problem" of the two mindsets/methodologies that come into play when Catholic and Protestant apologists engage in debate/discussion.

Dave Armstrong said...

I guess the only way to deal with Ken when he gets like this is to (methodologically) assume that he has had a psychotic break and is outside of reality. Note that this is tongue-in-cheek: not a literal proclamation that he is nuts, such as his blog cohort has made about me:

He has not ignored anything, he just hasn't had time to get to the rest of it.

That's right, Ken; whatever you say.

But shutting down the debate completely is what you are doing; not Jason, nor I, nor Turretinfan.

I stated from the outset that it was temporary; an exception to my usual rule. Six line-by-line replies, with 12% replies back, along with a mountain of insults. Time to move on after I scrape off the foot of mud that is all over me.

But Turretinfan deals with most of your content.

I'm sure he does, Ken; whatever you say.

You cannot accurately just count words and say they ignored certain percentages.

I know he ignored large and essential portions of my posts. The word count was simply an objective way to illustrate exactly how much he picks and chooses. He's always done this. It's nothing new. If you read our old debates, you'll see me complaining about his hypocritical and cowardly hyper-selectivity ten years ago.

The only thing you have proven is that you can type and cut and paste faster than us all

Whatever you say, Ken. I highly doubt, though, that I can out-type or outwrite TAO or Hays: both of whom write more words than there are electrons in the universe, every day.

You have not dealt with the substantive arguments

Right, Ken. Everyone knows that. How is your pillow on the couch? Okay? Good. Would you like some coffee?

and now you seem like the one who is running from debate.

Yes. My record of never debating anyone and always running, is manifest to one and all, as evidenced all over the place in my 2500+ papers.

Give Jason time and he will answer you.

He had his chance and decided to play games. I'm moving on now. You can pretend to be me and answer him, since you are so obsessed with all my doings.

You won't read Turretinfan or my stuff, though.

I try not to read any anti-Catholicism anymore, just as I don't read flat-earth, geocentric, Holocaust-denial stuff, etc. Why would I waste my time. I did it temporarily to try to help a catholic apologist who was struggling.

But I figured out (from your unanswerable reasoning) that I was a coward, so it was foolish of me to have even done that. I will be eternally grateful for your exposure of my cowardice. Admitting there is a problem is the first step to recovery, right Ken?

You sure that pillow is okay? Oh, and our hour is almost up. You can send the $300 through PayPal if you like. Here's the prescription for your meds . . . see ya next time!

Ken said...

when he gets like this is to (methodologically) assume that he has had a psychotic break and is outside of reality.


I do not understand you now.

I was serious and you did some kind of reverse psychology / coping mechanism to deal with the serious argument. oh well.

Dave Armstrong said...

You don't get my humor and satirical points, just like you don't get a lot of my theological argumentation. :-)

Ken said...

"Mr. Engwer had pointed out that some of the early church fathers suggest that a particular church, such as Rome, or the churches in general are reliable. However, they did not just say that the church or churches were reliable, but also stated why the churches are reliable. Mr. Engwer observed that when the factual basis for this reliability changes, there is no basis for continuing to judge the church or churches as reliable. Look at Mr. Engwer's comment and Dave's response:

[Mr. Engwer wrote:]Irenaeus does refer to the current reliability of the apostolic churches. But he gives reasons for their reliability that could change with the passing of time.

[Dave replied:] Passing down an unbroken tradition or set of truths does not change over time.
It either has happened and can be verified or it hasn't.

Notice that Dave does not address the issue that Mr. Engwer posed. He simply insists that things don't change. In other words, while he does not explicitly say so, Dave is forced to take the position that it doesn't matter why Irenaeus thought that the apostolic churches were reliable, simply that he thought they were reliable. But ignoring why Irenaeus thought what he thought amounts (in this discussion) to make pretextual use of Irenaeus. To phrase it in Vincentian terms, Dave's position is an alteration of Irenaeus' position, not an advancement of Irenaeus' position.

[UPDATE] A friend pointed out that I would be remiss to mention here Newman's own thoughts on the Vincentian canon that Dave has attempted to rely upon:

"It does not seem possible, then, to avoid the conclusion that, whatever be the proper key for harmonizing the records and documents of the early and later Church, and true as the dictum of Vincentius must be considered in the abstract, and possible as its application might be in his own age, when he might almost ask the primitive centuries for their testimony, it is hardly available now, or effective of any satisfactory result. The solution it offers is as difficult as the original problem."

- John Henry Newman, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine (New York: Longmans, Green and Co., LTD., 1927), p. 27."

From Turretinfan's critique of yours . . . devastating to your position.

I added some emboldening and italics for emphasis.

Ken said...

Why are all RCs "sincerely seeking the truth" and Protestants are "seeking to win an argument" ??

RC apologists are just as strong and convinced that they are right in their position that the RCC is the only true church and that all must return to her in submission.

In fact, the Infallibility doctrine of the RCC makes it impossible for any RC to admit any thing wrong, because to see that will bring the whole thing down.

When some do realize this, they leave, as David Waltz did.

CrimsonCatholic said...

When some do realize this, they leave, as David Waltz did.

Who knew this was coming? Anybody? Anybody? [raises hand]

Dave Armstrong said...

As I have been noting recently, Mr. Waltz's problems go far deeper than infallibility, to issues where Protestants and Catholics agree, like, e.g., the Trinity, whether Jesus is God, etc. I asked him straight out if Jesus was God and the Holy Spirit was God, and he replied that it was a complex issue that required a long explanation.

I said that any Christian ought to answer those things immediately and that hesitation indicates something seriously awry.

In other words, use of David Waltz as some manifestation of Catholic falsity won't do. He was only a Catholic since 2002. He was raised Jehovah's Witness, and says he has read about 1400 books on Mormonism.

If he is the disproof by example,. of Catholic claims, then all Christianity comes tumbling down, insofar as he seems to be in doubt as to basic trinitarian orthodoxy.

He's on vacation for 11 days at the moment, so that whole discussion is on hold.

Randy said...

Actually this reminds me of an incident that happened when I was learning to evangelize JW's as a protestant. Christian Research Institute was doing the course and had one of their JW specialists actually join the Watchtower Society. It was something everyone there found so hard to process. But strange things happen. Powerful spiritual forces are at work. Even smart people don't always behave logically.

I remember thinking that about Scott Hahn when I read his story. Then I found out he was not alone. That there were dozens and even hundreds of solid bible Christians who had come to the conclusion he was basically right. That was stronger for me. Then I read history and found out intelligent, biblically literate Catholics have always been common. Who knew? It sure meant I could not dismiss them like I wanted to.

Dave Armstrong said...

There is some danger in that. One must be solidly grounded in his faith to do cult research. I started out my serious research studying JWs. I never had the slightest desire to join, when I saw how anti-intellectual, unscriptural and plain goofy their beliefs were.

We are what we eat, though. If we keep reading things that have false doctrine, we may end up being persuaded. It takes grace to accept and follow truth.

Ken said...

Wow; David Waltz is now struggling with the Trinity and Deity of Christ. That is sad.

It is very clear in Scripture.

But, he admitted his JW background gave him lots of struggle with this issue.

And he seems to think the Mormons idea of other gods are possible in Irenaeus; which always seemed really goofy to me. (Along with a Mormon named Tom who contributes a lot in comboxes at his website.)

Dave Armstrong said...

In other words, he is not a typical Catholic apologist, and our efforts shouldn't be broad-brushed in an effort to smart Catholic apologetics. Both sides have their defections.

To be fair to David; he hasn't stated outright that he rejects these things )he's gone on vacation now). But his hesitation to answer quickly is not a good sign, IMHO.