Monday, September 13, 2010

Anti-Catholic vs Anti-Catholicism: Is There an Essential Difference? Turretinfan's and Steve Hays' Double Standards and Equivocation

"Vicious Circle I", Ján Švec, 1995

I've been over this linguistic merry-go-round or ring-around-the-rosey times without number. Anti-Catholics (those who deny that Catholicism is a Christian theological system, just as Protestantism is) will object to the use of anti-Catholicism in the sense just defined, all the while using a host of their own "anti" terms (anti-Calvinism, anti-Reformed, anti-Baptist). I've documented this several times, and won't even bother to make the links. All the major online anti-Catholic Protestants do this.

There is a further rhetorical argument used, however, that is a bit more subtle. The objection is made specifically to use of anti-Catholic as a label for one person: it is thought that this specifically makes the person so labeled as anti-person (Catholics as people or individuals), rather than against the system. Thus (in this thinking), anti-Catholicism is directed towards theology, whereas anti-Catholic is directed towards persons in an ad hominem fashion.

It is a greater objection-within-an-objection. If the term is used at all, they at least want the "ism" included in it, to make these distinctions more clear. I would say this is considerably straining at gnats. What I mean by anti-Catholic is exactly what I mean by anti-Catholicism (against the Catholic system, claiming it is not Christian by nature). I've reiterated that about 5,865,203 times as well. A proponent of anti-Catholicism is logically called an anti-Catholic. It means "against Catholicism" not "against Catholics."

The anti-Catholic generally loves Catholics (albeit in a theologically and spiritually patronizing, condescending fashion). He wants to see them "saved" and safe within the bosom of Protestantism, so they can "know Jesus" as they supposedly never have, hear the gospel they allegedly have never heard at Mass, and make it to heaven and not be damned with the Whore of Babylon and her idolatrous, blasphemous, semi-pagan, unregenerate ways.

It's an exact parallel to a description such as anti-Communism. What is a person called who holds to that view? An anti-Communist. Even President Kennedy was rightly called that. Does this mean an anti-Communist is personally opposed to Communist people? No; it means that he is against the Communist system. Anti-Communist is used because calling a person an anti-Communism is linguistically ridiculous and impermissible.

I submit, with all due respect, that if I went through all my posts and edited every use of anti-Catholic, and kept only anti-Catholicism, that our dear Christian friends would still not get it, and I would continue to hear the same criticisms. I'd bet the farm on it.

But let's accept this linguistically suspect demand for the sake of argument, and see if our anti-Catholic friends abide by it themselves. In fact, they do not. The most glaring counter-example is Turretinfan (always referred to affectionately by yours truly as TAO: The Anonymous One).

TAO wrote a post on his blog (on 4 October 2007) that was all about this sort of thing. He cited my own citation of fellow anti-Catholic Peter Pike, stating:

Calling someone an anti-Catholic is like calling someone an anti-semite. The connotations are the same, and Armstrong fully knows that.

TAO was at least fair enough to include my response to that:

Sheer nonsense. As I've stated a million times now, including to Pike, I use the term simply as meaning one who thinks Catholicism is not a Christian system. Period. End of story. And I wrote a paper years ago documenting how many historians and sociologists use the term in this way (though I agree it can have other applications also)

But -- TAO being TAO --, he had to keep bashing me despite my clarification (that should have ended it). So he blasted me (bolding and enlargement his own):

Dave knows the connotations and uses the term anyway. Dave, you know full well it's an inflammatory label. So please - stop making excuses. You've received numerous complaints about it from those you so label, so you cannot plead ignorance.

In the comment thread, TAO wrote on 10-11-07:

. . . the use of "anti-Calvinist" is just a rhetorical trick Dave uses to place the ears of his Catholic readers on "ignore this guy."

TAO knew that I had documented several times, his (and many other anti-Catholics') use of "anti" terms. But he had to dismiss that somehow. He couldn't possibly ever admit that a glaring double standard was in play. That would never do. It would be a naughty no-no. When I point out inconsistent ethics, it is merely a "rhetorical trick," you see. See how the game is played?

In a July 2008 paper of mine, devoted to TAO's terminological double standards, I noted, for example, how he routinely uses the term papist, in describing Catholics: a term that I described as "long considered insulting and inappropriate in gentlemanly theological discourse, and certainly not '"scholarly'":

Polemical Papist, Dave Armstrong, . . . (6-14-07)

Please keep the author of this post in your prayers, that he may be set free from the bondage of papist superstition by the light of the gospel! (12-9-07)

Even the papists recognize that the command was not absolute. (5-17-08)

The fact that it has come to be accepted by the papists doesn't make Purgatory any more orthodox than the idea of successful intercession on behalf of souls in hell. (5-20-08)

Thus, without animosity or without intent to disparage, you may find reference in the debate to the church that confesses, as its earthly head, Benedict XVI, variously as the “Roman Catholic” (RC) church, the Romanist church, or the papists. I don’t mean to use those terms jeeringly, and I hope no unnecessary offense will be taken at them. I recognize that papists prefer the term “Catholic,” but that term is misleading and inaccurate – and putting it in quotation marks in every instance would seem to be at least as much a distraction as using the descriptive term “papist” to describe those who hold to the supposed infallibility of the Roman pontiff, or “Romanist” to describe those who view Rome as being the seat of government of the entire Church of God. (6-1-08)

Dave Armstrong is himself a papist . . . (7-7-08)

In the same paper, I go on to document how TAO sneers at the use of anti-Catholic, by repeatedly putting it in quotation marks, as if it is an illegitimate term. He himself makes no distinction between anti-Catholic and anti-Catholicism as terms, because he put the latter in quotation marks, too:

Misuse of "Anti-Catholicism" Documented [title] (10-4-07)

P.S. Dave's maturity and honesty in dealing with this situation is illustrated by his response to this post as evidenced by his description of this post on his inappropriately titled "Anti-Catholicism" web page: . . . (10-29-07)

. . . the Christian position that he openly opposes (calling it names, like "anti-Catholicism," on many of his web pages). (2-11-08)

Wouldn't it consistently follow, then, that if TAO thinks mere use of the term anti-Catholic is exactly like calling someone an anti-Semite: a merely "inflammatory label" and so forth, that he would refrain from using a term like papist? -- that has no scholarly pedigree or standard usage at all (unlike anti-Catholic, which is all over scholarly historical and sociological writings)? It would, but TAO doesn't know that. He blithely goes on using the equivalent term anti-Calvinist in referring to persons (in the first instance below, just three months after his post against my use of words):

One rather aggressive non-Calvinist (even to the point of being an anti-Calvinist) recently (maybe two years ago, by now) sent a challenge (shown below). . . . The distortion of the Scripture by this Anti-Calvinist starts immediately. . . . Yet the Anti-Calvinist foolishly claims that all can hear. The Anti-Calvinist also asserts that Jesus declares that there are no chosen or predestined ones. . . . So, not only does Jesus not declare the message, He and his apostles and evangelists declare the opposite. Furthermore, the Anti-Calvinist's Anti-Calvinist's paraphrase (“Any person in the world, Hear my message. I want to save each and every one of you”) is dead wrong. . . . completely fabricated by the Anti-Calvinist, . . . The Anti-Calvinists concluding remark that predestination is a myth is clearly wrong, . . . the Anti-Calvinists' final word . . . we can justly reject the lies of this Anti-Calvinist, and his perversion of the gospel of Christ . . . the Anti-Calvinist says: . . . It is ironic how well Christ's methodology works even today, and on this Anti-Calvinist. . . . The Anti-Calvinist's final comment . . . But the Anti-Calvinist says: . . . (1-12-08)

[I counted 109 further uses of this term (and its close variations) in the same paper before I got tired of counting. There was much more paper to go. TAO quite possibly could have used the term as many as 300 to 400 times! It was almost like a mantra.]

A number of writers who are not Calvinist in the conventional sense have desired to be called Calvinist, for one reason or another. Some anti-Calvinists will find this hard to believe. (12-1-07)

TAO speaks this way often, as seen in several instances on other discussion forums:

Only anti-Calvinists call it insincere. The fact that God knows whosoever will, means that it is a closed not an open class. Accussations of insincerity are the dark side of anti-Calvinism. . . . The dark side of anti-Calvinism implicitly denies that Elijah was a true prophet. Also, for this to be taunting, the anti-Calvinist would have to assert (falsely) that some wants salvation and don't get it. . . . It is always anti-Calvinists who say that God is the source of all evil. Yet, anti-Calvinists cannot fail to admit that evil could not exist if God did not permit it, and that it comes from his creation. So, the dark side of anti-Calvinism is equally susceptible to this criticism. . . . I think so, but anti-Calvinists deny that all the time. (10-3-05)

The fundamental reason that Calvinists and anti-Calvinists don't agree on soteriology is: . . .
(I say "anti-Calvinist" to avoid the feedback I receive when I call everyone who disagrees with Calvinism "Arminians," when in fact they do not agree with Arminius.) (2-14-06)

I always love when anti-Calvinists accuse Calvinists of not properly understanding . . . the anti-Calvinists tell us that Kosmos means each person of the entire human race, and the anti-Calvinists are honorable men. . . .
the anti-Calvinists tell us that Kosmos means each person of the entire human race, and the anti-Calvinists are honorable men. (5-10-06)

[phraseology repeated four more times in TAO's usual boorish fashion]

In so doing, TAO is acting not only like a rank hypocrite, but also like a two-faced, equivocating liar, with a double standard as wide as the Grand Canyon. I'm perfectly consistent in my use, whereas TAO and others who act as he does are quite inconsistent and unethical, demanding that I act in ways that they have no intention of abiding by themselves. Other anti-Catholics use the same terminology of anti-Calvinist (as applied to a person), though perhaps without the level of dupicity that TAO employs:

As a Calvinist, I sometimes get challenges from anti-Calvinists to debate. (Matt Slick of CARM)

In a discussion on an SBC blog, anti-Calvinist is used repeatedly by many different folks. There are at least two books that use the term anti-Calvinists (one / two).

Steve Hays

Many anti-Calvinists are quite explicit about why they reject Calvinism. (7-21-09)

Robert, an anti-Calvinist troll, . . . I, for one, have never faulted an anti-Calvinist for using “offensive” or “hurtful” language. I have never said, “How dare you say that about a Calvinist like me!” Instead, I quote their anti-Calvinist invective to illustrate their two-faced behavior.
. . . Some anti-Calvinists are on search and destroy mission. (7-24-09)

BTW, “Calvinazi” seems to be a popular epithet among some anti-Calvinists: . . . I think we should keep “Calvinazi” in mind when some anti-Calvinists profess to deplore the tone of Reformed discourse.

. . . the Machiavellian tactics that anti-Calvinists in the SBC engage in. . . . I’m afraid I can’t buy into the victimology of the anti-Calvinists.

Opponents are Calvinism work hard to popularize the image of Calvinists as a bunch of meanies. Thankfully, anti-Calvinists are distinguished by their irenic discourse.

And this is characteristic of anti-Calvinists comments on this thread.

. . . the Calvinists are Caner’s opponents of Caner while the anti-Calvinists are his supporters. It’s like a play in which all of the actors are typecast. Incidentally, if anti-Calvinists really have the freedom to do otherwise, you have to wonder why they’re so predictable in situations like this. But I digress. . . . it is duplicitous of anti-Calvinists to blame Calvinists for doing what the anti-Calvinists refuse to do. If the anti-Calvinists refuse to police their own, then, of course, that task will fall to unsympathetic outsiders.

Hays also wouldn't be himself if he didn't make himself into a rank hypocrite, too:

But to judge by this reply, whenever Armstrong gets into a dogfight he can't win, he pushes the little red button on his ejector seat labeled “anti-Catholic,” and parachutes out of his flaming, nose-diving plane.

This is exactly the same tactic that is used by liberals to smear conservatives and duck out of an honest debate over the issues. They resort to slur words like “homophobic,” “sexist,” “racist,” and the like.

Anyone can play this game. A Mormon would say that I'm anti-Mormon. A psychic would say that I'm anti-astrology. That's a great bullet-dodging device. . . .

He's says that I'm anti-Catholic. Well, what is Trent if not anti-Protestant?

Am I anti-Catholic? Depends on what you mean. I'm not hostile to Catholics. This isn't personal.

I am opposed to the Catholic belief-system, just as Armstrong is opposed to the Reformed belief-system.

Do I believe that the RCC is a fully Christian institution? Obviously not, otherwise I'd be Roman Catholic.

For the record, I believe the RCC to be an apostate church. The Council of Trent marks the irreformable repudiation of the gospel of grace, while Vatican II marks the official triumph of modernism. (4-11-05)

And who is an “anti-Catholic”? Anyone he doesn't want to debate with, that's who! (4-14-05)

In any case, I reserve the right to use designations which reflect my theological viewpoint, and not the outlook of my theological opponent.

A Romanist is someone who adheres to the primacy of Rome. A papist is someone who adheres to the primacy of the Pope. And so forth.

Since a Calvinist takes no offense at being denominated a Calvinist, I don't see why a Catholic should take offense at being denominated a papist or Romanist.

[you gotta love how he can't even avoid using the proper term even in defending the improper, pejorative titles: "I don't see why a Catholic . . ."; "I suppose a Roman Catholic would object to . . .," ". . . a Roman Catholic will protest that he is a follower of Christ, . . ."]

Hence, I will continue to opine on the papistical popery of papistically papizing papists in the thrall of papistry and popedom. (6-10-05)

The historical etymology of “anti-Catholic” is irrelevant to this debate. All that’s relevant is Armstrong’s self-serving usage. . . .

To my knowledge, I’ve always been consistent in my use of synonyms, employing “Catholic,” “Romanist,” “papist,” “popery” and the like interchangeably for purposes of stylistic variety and euphony.

My usage isn’t normative for anyone else.

Armstrong is of the stated view that you should call folks whatever they want to be called. I disagree. We should call people what they are. I value truthful speech over PC speech.

. . . I’m not offended by this linguistic discrimination. But, by the same token, I have an equally principled reason for my own usage. (9-25-05)

Dave's functional definition of "anti-Catholic" is any Evangelical he doesn't want to debate. (9-26-05)



Adomnan said...

It's clear from the evidence you present, Dave, that these anti-Catholic heretics maintain that they are justified in calling Catholics anything they want, whereas we Catholics must be very circumspect indeed about what we call them. That's what one would expect from people so shameless and so abusive of language and logic.

For my part, the good old Biblical word "heretic" describes what they are quite well. It's a word we should employ more often.

Dave Armstrong said...

They are heretics insofar as they reject any received, apostolic, traditional, dogmatic teachings of the Catholic Church, but not in terms of not being Christians at all.

The latter aspect was made crystal clear by Vatican II (also being evident in papal writings before it took place).

Do we agree on that? Use of "heretic" must be carefully defined, lest it be misunderstood.

Dave Armstrong said...

I am prepared to agree, however, that certain of the more extreme anti-Catholics, at least, may indeed, possibly be literally unregenerate, and/or out of God's good graces at present, since the fruit they exhibit is so far from that of the Spirit of Christ, that one is quite justified (on explicit biblical grounds) in wondering whether they are indwelt by that same Spirit.

They are as subject to wolves in sheep's clothing in their ranks as anyone else.

Paul Hoffer said...

The latest demonstration of anti-Catholicism one sees now is how the folks referenced in your article like to call Pope Benedict XVI as "Ratzinger" refusing to show him any sort of respect. It is actually quite funny that these same folks vigorously decry any sort of slight or claimed lack of respect to the self appointed pope of Calvinism when Catholic and some Protestant apologists do not recognize his right to put a "Dr." in front of his name because he did not earn it in an accredited institution.

God bless!

Dave Armstrong said...

I have thought of that irony, too, yes. For example, White generally refuses to call someone like Fr. Peter Stravinskas by his title, all the while regularly using his own illegitimate title and pretending to be something that he is not.