Thursday, August 25, 2011

Anti-Catholic Calvinist Steve Hays: Lies, Slanderous Mockery, Sophistry, Rationalization of Grave Sexual Sins: All in a Day's Work, and in the Name of Christ


[Steve Hays' words will be in blue]

Steve Hays runs the large blog Triablogue. He is one of the most atrocious examples of a Christian apologist to be found online today. It's people like this who give my profession a bad name (I am an apologist myself, after all, so I can get lumped in with pathetic examples of apologists like Steve).

The latest nonsense comes in the aftermath of a dispute where I actually sided in part with Steve Hays, over against a fellow Catholic apologist and a Catholic woman and amateur apologist online, who has followed my work for some time (hence, received my amiable correction). It was implied that he wasn't a Christian, and I said he was (though assuredly a pathetic public example of one: giving Christianity a bad name, as well as apologetics). Then some claims were made that he made an illegitimate reductio ad absurdum argument in reply to what he was being charged with. I disagreed and said his use was quite legitimate, logically and ethically. I defended him in this way because he happened to be right, and his accusers wrong, in these particulars of disputational method.

The woman later apologized, in a great display of humility and Christian charity. That was blown off by Steve and not acknowledged, in two mocking posts (one / two). After I had defended his argument and right to be called a Christian, he had to (inevitably, with him) somehow question my motivation (since I am Attila the Hun and Vlad the Impaler all wrapped into one, in his eyes), so he wrote: "Armstrong’s contribution would have been preferable had he not turned this into yet another pretext for self-aggrandizement. But by hogging the limelight, his intervention now looks purely opportunistic."

I always have to be wrong, simply because the man despises me, and because I defend Holy Mother Church and Catholic doctrine. This is par for the course with all of the most active anti-Catholic Protestant apologists.

Hays is not only a first-rate sophist ("give the devil his due": he is very good at a bad thing), but also a world-class mocker, in the very worst, most obnoxious sense of that term. It's his method of choice now, having apparently tired of seriously slanderous insulting rhetoric. Calling folks "actually evil" (4-13-09) or of "evil character" (1-29-10) or "schizophrenic" and characterized by "wild mood swings" and "emotionally unstable" (4-18-10), and in one classic outburst on 7-16-09: "hypersensitive, paranoid, an ego-maniac, narcissistic, with a martyr and persecution complex . . . self-obsessive . . . self-idolater. . . . singular, autobiographical personality cult" or "a stalwart enemy of the faith. . . . no better than Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens" (1-28-10) -- all of which was directed towards yours truly -- got old, and so now he is trying to use humor to get across his ultra-irrational contempt, and to smear my name and integrity in any, every conceivable fashion that occurs to his oh-so-fertile brain.

Hence, recently, after his fallacious and sophistical arguments were dismantled in a "discussion" about the former Catholicism of the conservative commentator and author Dinesh D'Souza, Hays stepped up his usual mockery, with profound posts at my expense (complete with lots of photos!): "The Dave Armstrong Photo Gallery" (7-28-11), "Split-personality Narcissist" (8-3-11): where I was delightfully described as a "bipolar solipsist", and "Prima Donna" (8-24-11), complete with picture of a ballerina, where he states: "I'll be the first to concede that Dave is not a team player. By definition, a prima donna can't be a team player. Prima donnas don't play team sports." Then we have the follow-up, "Crowd Control" (8-24-11), with this passage-for-the-ages:

. . . Armstrong is so fond of talking about himself that whenever he goes to confession, you have a line stretching all around the block as other parishioners wait their turn while Armstrong updates his priest on the very latest installments in the story of Dave. The police require advance notification to erect barricades and reroute traffic. Concession stands are wheeled in to feed the waiting parishioners. Tents are set up for overnighters. Trapped in the Confessional with the interminable Dave-a-thon, the famished priest must order delivery pizza on his cellphone.


How could I possibly "refute" that, huh?

Now, I figured I could have some fun with the "team player" bit, and so I went into the combox for "Prima Donna" and wrote:

We certainly know that you aren't a team player, Steve, since you defend masturbation so passionately (no pun intended). (8-24-11)

One Dominic Bnonn Tennant (fellow rabid anti-Catholic) replied:

Wow, much as I laughed out loud at that comment, I hope you're going to confess it to your priest. (8-24-11)

I shot back:

Why in the world would I have to confess telling the truth? It was a joke, and all I said, substantively (the serious point underlying the witty remark), was that he defended it, not that he did it himself: a fact that is indisputable. Look it up. (8-24-11)

Hays does do this, as I have documented twice (one / two). Hays has written (it's still on his site now):

I don’t think that Christians should go around guilt-ridden if they engage in this practice. On the face of it, this seems like a natural sexual safety value for single men—especially younger men in their sexual prime. Like learning how to walk or perform other athletic activities, this form of sexual experience and physical experimentation may train an unmarried young man in attaining some degree of mental and muscular control so that he is not a total novice on his wedding night. . . . I can’t say absolutely if it is right or wrong, but I tend to deem it permissible under some circumstances.

("Too hot to handle - 2", 7-15-04)

But us poor "Romanists" must always be conscious in bigoted anti-Catholic environments, that however much we are mocked, we aren't ever allowed to joke back or have a sense of humor, even when it is perfectly ethical and understandable to do so. That's a naughty no-no. As I explained, I was joking, yet it had a serious underlying point: Hays does actually wink at masturbation and at the very least takes a lax view on it, and compromises. It's the classic tendency of the liberalization of traditional sexuality within Christian circles, that we have seen for at least a century now. But I am not allowed to joke, and because I am so despised in Hays' circles of know-nothing anti-Catholic cronies, based on his years of mockery and slander (what else would people think, who follow him?), I receive back a reply like the following, from Dominic Bnonn Tennant:

I see that reports of your willful obtuseness and self-justification are not exaggerated. (8-24-11)

No attempt to actually interact with the claim that I made: that Hays defends masturbation . . .; rather the immediate personal insult, with the obligatory swipe at my supposed unsavory interior motivations. So I came back with this remark:

Right. Hays defends masturbation. If you can't see that, then I am talking to the wind as usual around here. Be well. (8-24-11)

And Hays himself chimes in with the good old standby , when no rational answer is forthcoming: the catholic sex scandal:

Armstrong defends institutional pederasty. (8-25-11)

Ally Matthew D. Schultz enters in at this point, delightfully supporting by personal example the long stereotype of the humorless Calvinist:

I wonder why Dave so regularly raises the issue of masturbation. It clearly wasn't the subject of this post. (8-25-11)

Yes. The "subject" of the post was that I was a "prima donna": like that is to be regarded as a serious topic? LOL But I don't dare joke about it and make a wisecrack about Hays' defenses of masturbation! Then I made a serious reply:

You're the one defending grave sexual sin, Steve, not I. I have never countenanced sexual abuse from priests. I condemn it wholeheartedly as an abomination and an outrage, as my Church did.
[see the lengthy statement on my "Catholic Scandals" page and my posts collecting many articles about it (one / two) ]

There is just as much (usually more) abuse, statistically, among Protestant clergy or any other large institution, as I have documented more than once. [one / two]

But you sit there and defend what has always been regarded as grave sin, by Catholics, Orthodox, Protestants, until recently. Luther doesn't defend it,
[Here's what Martin Luther wrote about Onan and his practice of contraception that is the same in essence as masturbation (ejaculation deliberately separated from any possibility of conception):
Onan must have been a malicious and incorrigible scoundrel. This is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a Sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed . . . He was inflamed with the basest spite and hatred . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore God punished him . . . That worthless fellow . . . preferred polluting himself with a most disgraceful sin to raising up offspring for his brother.

(Lectures on Genesis: Chapters 38-44; 1544; Luther's Works, 7, 20-21) ]
 Calvin doesn't; 
[Here's what John Calvin wrote about Onan, in his Commentary on Genesis:

I will contend myself with briefly mentioning this, as far as the sense of shame allows to discuss it. It is a horrible thing to pour out seed besides the intercourse of man and woman. Deliberately avoiding the intercourse, so that the seed drops on the ground, is double horrible. For this means that one quenches the hope of his family, and kills the son, which could be expected, before he is born. This wickedness is now as severely as is possible condemned by the Spirit, through Moses, that Onan, as it were, through a violent and untimely birth, tore away the seed of his brother out the womb, and as cruel as shamefully has thrown on the earth. Moreover he thus has, as much as was in his power, tried to destroy a part of the human race. When a woman in some way drives away the seed out the womb, through aids, then this is rightly seen as an unforgivable crime. Onan was guilty of a similar crime, by defiling the earth with his seed, so that Tamar would not receive a future inheritor. ]
 most historical Protestants have not [folks like, e.g., C. S. Lewis and John Wesley]. But you do.

You can lie all you want about myself, about my church, mock away and make an ass of yourself, and be a reprehensible example of a follower of Jesus Christ. You only hurt yourself. You're not harming my work at all: it is thriving more than ever, with two new book contracts in the works, etc. (8-25-11)

Without missing a beat, Steve "Whopper" Hays (you can see the basis of the richly-earned nickname by now) promptly put up another post in response, where he assumes the false premise (that sexual abuse is sanctioned at the highest level of the Church, and that individual sin is somehow the fault of the entire Church) and quixotically proceeds with his irrelevant analogy:
On weekends, Dave is a Green Peace activist condemning water pollution downstream. During the week, Dave is employed by the factory further upstream that contaminates the water. Dave the loyal company spokesman stoutly defends the polluting factory while Dave the volunteer protester roundly condemns the pollution.

Then he did his usual obfuscation, obscurantism, and sophistry in a further reply in the latest combox thread (8-25-11) -- my interjections in brackets:

When you have no argument, beg the question. [I have documented above how he defends or winks at masturbation] Are you claiming that Evangelical pastors sodomize underage boys at the same rate as Catholic priests? [see the statistics in the two links I listed above, for sexual mischief among non-Catholic clergy. Sexual abuse is a huge problem in society-at-large] When you don’t have an argument, quote tradition.[opposition to masturbation and the related sin, contraception, historically, is a fact, among all Christian groups. I cited as examples, above, Luther, Calvin, Lewis, and Wesley] . . . Since you’re not Lutheran, that’s [citing Luther's opposition] a disingenuous appeal. [it is absolutely irrelevant what I believe, in discussion of known historical facts: folks' positions on this issue] Since you’re not Reformed, that’s [citing Calvin's opposition] a disingenuous appeal. [is Steve truly this dense, to not get this?] You’re resorting to the same peer pressure that liberals and atheists deploy to bully the masses into accepting global warming or naturalistic evolution.[Right. Rather, I am merely noting what all types of Christians have held about sexual morality, until very recently] I’ve never lied about you or your church. However, that raises a striking conundrum: If I lie about a liar like you, or if I lie about your lying denomination, does that double negation mean I’m telling the truth? [its own refutation . . .] As P. T. Barnum said, "There's a sucker born every minute." I see you share his business ethic. [his self-refuting "reply" to my mentioning that my work is thriving despite his relentless attacks upon it]

There is no rational discussion with this guy. I've known that for several years now. This is a prime example of why I refuse to engage in an actual back-and-forth dialogue with anti-Catholics anymore, and have not for over four years now. No true discussion is possible. It's literally impossible. It never is possible when extreme hostility is in play. It's like the difference between an angry quarrel with a spouse, with one party in a rage, and a calm, loving, amiable, pleasant mutually respectful discussion with a spouse. It's like night and day.

But on occasion I like to document and expose for everyone to see, the sort of garbage and ultra-irrational slander and tomfoolery that characterizes anti-Catholic "thinking" online today. Is this the sort of person -- a man who "argues" in such a fashion -- who would make Christianity appealing to you if you were an atheist, or Calvinist Christianity look like a great option to you if you haven't decided what Christian communion has the most truth, or the fullness of truth (as we Catholics say about our Church)?

I utterly despise and detest the methodology that Hays uses and several things that he defends. I don't despise him as a person. By exposing his unethical, shameful tactics, which sadly typify anti-Catholic methodology, then indirectly I am showing that there is a much better way than this rotgut, and that way is Catholicism.

I hasten to add that not all Calvinist (or Reformed Protestants) act this way: not by a long shot. I have several Reformed friends, and many more Protestant friends of other persuasions. But sadly, anti-Catholicism and the usual accompanying bigotry is far too prevalent in Reformed circles: especially online (the Internet seems to bring out the worst tendencies of folks for some reason).

Thus, the present endeavor, tedious though it is, is a legitimate aspect of Catholic apologetics: exposing the unsavory methodological tactics of so many of the enemies of Holy Mother Church. Many misunderstand this, and I will get criticized for this post as I always inevitably do, by folks who don't grasp its rationale and purpose.

I am despised and detested by these sorts of apologists because I defend the Catholic Church and her teaching. Period. If it weren't for that, they wouldn't know me from Adam and I would never cross their minds. I would be perfectly irrelevant. But because I defend Catholicism and critique their garbage (and am publicly known in apologetics circles and to a lesser extent, larger theological circles, as one who does this), they attack me personally and engage in all the usual timeworn smear tactics: standard practice for those who have run out of arguments, ideas, and reasonable discourse. What we see in politics in that regard, we also sadly observe in the Christian world of competing theological truth claims.

* * * 

Steve is sadly continuing his mockery; now with yet another attack-post, "Tooting his own horn." He opines (my interjected words in brackets again):

Armstrong is a roided up version of Catholic piety. Incapable of doing any good deed out of purely disinterested concern for others. [Right. As always, Steve knows my interior motivations and every nook and cranny of my heart. Imagine saying about someone else that they don't do "any" deed for the right motives? It's mind-boggling how he cavalierly assumes that he can make such outrageous, unsupported claims. This is "Pharisaic method" x 100. It's wicked. Our Lord Jesus and St. Paul condemn this sort of attitude times without number] When I read his original post correctly defending my use of the reductio ad absurdum (before he had second thoughts and scrubbed the original post), [no "second thoughts" whatsoever; I was respecting the privacy of my Catholic friend, who had apologized; apparently that is a sort of ethics and Christianity that is incomprehensible to Steve; I had to have removed it for unsavory reasons; couldn't possibly be otherwise.] I asked myself, “Where’s the catch? Where’s the hidden fee?” [Again, Hays seems utterly unable to grasp the notion that I did it simply because he was right in that instance, and some Catholics were wrong, and I was defending the truth of the matter, as I saw it. His personal hostility to me (the wicked, "evil" person) is so great that he is almost totally blind when it comes to anything I do. According to his belief in the false doctrine of Total Depravity, he has no option but to think this] And sure enough, it didn’t take long before he dropped by our combox at Tblog to collect tribute. [what tribute? I informed him that a person he was vociferously objecting to had apologized and retracted their position. This should have been good news. But Hays didn't have it in him to accept an apology, because of the rude, boorish ass that he so often is online. Minimal Christian charity was too much to ask of him, I guess] It’s always for the greater glory of Dave. What’s in it for him? That’s the bottom line. [LOL Quite obviously, nothing at all was "in it" for me. I risked offending a fellow apologist; I did in fact cause some pain and consternation in the woman I publicly corrected, which was unpleasant to me. I knew full well from past experience that I would likely be mocked here afresh (precisely what happened). It's ridiculous to think that I thought I would personally gain anything from it, and that this explained what I did. I did it because it was right. Period. End of story.] So naturally he came by, with outstretched palm, demanding reimbursement for his good deed. [this is a total distortion of what happened, and a bald-faced lie. One would think that such continual lying and distorting of facts would become wearisome after a while. But all Hays has (very much like the liberal Democrats today) is insult and calumny, if no rational reply is forthcoming from him. He's trying to make as big a noise and throw enough manure on the wall (at my picture) so that some will eventually stick. But he only harms himself. it doesn't have the slightest effect on anything I do] And, come to think of it, that’s the essence of Catholic piety: “As soon as a coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” [leave it to Steve, to utilize a distortion of Catholicism, that was never official teaching, to supposedly describe the "essence of Catholic piety." Thanks for the laughs and comic relief, Steve. That was very rich in both irony and absurdity.]

Not content with this ludicrous piece of sophistry and calumny, Hays waxes eloquently and stupidly in another combox comment:

First of all, masturbation has nothing to do with this post. For some reason, Catholics like Armstrong suffer from a masturbatory fixation. That says a lot about what they have on their minds most of the time.

Yeah, right. I'm a very happily married man, with a beautiful wife whom I adore (and am quite affectionate with!), and four children, yet according to Steve (a single, 50ish guy), I am obsessed with masturbation (as if there would be any need). Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?

I'll repeat it again, s---l---o---w---l---y, so that maybe even Steve will "get it" this time, seeing that he has (for all his vaunted brain power) the most extremely difficult time comprehending the argument or tactics that someone else uses. It was a joke! Got that, Steve? He called me a "prima donna" (to add to his collection of 10,000 other insults through the years) and said I wasn't a team player (he was using as a springboard here certain aspects of the previous controversy over the reductio ad absurdum that he used, and I defended). He used humor; so did I. I "get" his, but I know that the serious charges underneath it (his really believing all this patent nonsense about me) are simply untrue, and I know that his "jokes" aren't funny when they are based on lies, because good humor (especially satire, above all) has to be truth-based in some respect in the end.

He talked about "team player" so I got the idea of making a joke about masturbation, since I knew he has defended that. My joke was funny, because even Hays' buddy Tennant admitted that he laughed at it. But Steve doesn't get it.  My joke was based in truth (his views on masturbation), which is exactly why it was funny. But Hays didn't get it, and had no comeback, so he resorted to more insult (including bringing up the ubiquitous sex scandal in the Church) and lied some more, saying I am obsessed with masturbation.

Now, let it be known that I am not saying that Hays himself engages in this sinful practice. Who knows? I don't read minds and know all interior motivations and secret acts of others, as Hays clearly thinks he does. But I confess that I did get a big chuckle over the analysis of Jon the atheist, who wrote on my blog:

I am genuinely baffled that people regard Steve as intelligent. I used to argue at Triablogue prior to being banned and I tried interacting with Steve for a while, but after much effort I finally told him that I would no longer address his criticisms of my statements. He had no ability to actually internalize what I was saying and respond to it in a coherent way.

I honestly concluded that Steve has an unhealthy and unnatural lack of empathy. His inability to walk in someone else's shoes, sympathize, and even understand what a critic would say, in my judgment made discussion with him completely unproductive. I involve myself in online discussions to learn, and to learn you need your critic to understand what you are saying. Steve either could not or would not. So there's nothing to be gained. Why do people read him? I have no clue.

My first inclination regarding his thoughts on masturbation was that it was good to see him defend something like this instead of being so legalistic, as is typical of Reformed Protestants. But having read enough of him and understanding his unnatural lack of empathy it's pretty clear that the only reason he allows devation from legalism in this case is because it's a practice he engages in.

Again, I am not agreeing with his assessment, as to Hays and masturbation, but if Hays insists on positively lying about myself, relative to this issue, then it is fair game for someone else to speculate about him. Hays lies about me and is dead serious; I merely share a chuckle about him, and joke about it: just as in my initial remark that he couldn't stomach and is now trying to spin away so vigorously that he is (physically and intellectually) dizzy as can be.



***

35 comments:

Dan Rodger said...

Its sad watching two obviously intelligent Christian men argue like this.What happened to the gentleness and respect we are supposed to dialogue with [1 Peter 3:15]?

I guess that's why pride is the number one killer for Apologists...you both obviously know too much for your own good.

Jon said...

I am genuinely baffled that people regard Steve as intelligent. I used to argue at Triablogue prior to being banned and I tried interacting with Steve for a while, but after much effort I finally told him that I would no longer address his criticisms of my statements. He had no ability to actually internalize what I was saying and respond to it in a coherent way.

I honestly concluded that Steve has an unhealthy and unnatural lack of empathy. His inability to walk in someone else's shoes, sympathize, and even understand what a critic would say, in my judgment made discussion with him completely unproductive. I involve myself in online discussions to learn, and to learn you need your critic to understand what you are saying. Steve either could not or would not. So there's nothing to be gained. Why do people read him? I have no clue.

My first inclination regarding his thoughts on masturbation was that it was good to see him defend something like this instead of being so legalistic, as is typical of Reformed Protestants. But having read enough of him and understanding his unnatural lack of empathy it's pretty clear that the only reason he allows devation from legalism in this case is because it's a practice he engages in. I think if Steve lived in the 1600's and engaged in the practive of burning heretics at the stake he'd likewise think that was biblical and correct. I don't think he'd be able to feel sorry for the victims.

Again, I don't know why people read him or interact with him. Being insulted in the face of thoughtful arguments is tough, but maybe tolerable if you can learn something. With Steve you get the insults, but you don't get the thoughtful arguments. Why subject yourself to that?

Dave Armstrong said...

I agree, Dan. You'll notice that I condemned his tactics over and over again. I think they are despicable.

Unfortunately, often when one condemns lousy argumentation, others will lump the person in with what they are criticizing, and this is what you are doing to me: the "immoral equivalence" routine.

I have over 650 posted dialogues. If they are with regular Christians, who act normally and cordially in debate, I get along fine with anyone. You would readily see that if you have read much of my writing, and the dialogues I have done. But anti-Catholic Protestants cannot do that. They have too much hostility. Nor can anti-Protestant Catholics.

If you will read what I wrote closely, you won't see me calling Steve "evil" or a "schizophrenic" and all the nonsense he has called me. I say he is a bad example, because he calls people all these names, and a sophist, because of the poor way that he argues. If you think what I've done is equivalent to what he has said about others, then there is nothing else I can do. To me the difference is patently obvious and stark.

Unfortunately, when there are competing truth claims, it too often degenerates into name-calling. Christians are not to talk in such a fashion, and when they do, it ought to be condemned, just as Paul in the Bible did, numerous times. Thus I condemn the unworthy, unethical tactic. I am condemning the sin, not the person.

Roberto Jung said...

Dan,

I don't see a lack of "gentleness" or "respect" on Dave's part. He's dealing with an unscrupulous and dishonest individual whose truly reprehensible conduct ought have destroyed his credibility eons ago. An ancient church that maintains the traditional teachings on justification, sacramentalism, and morality is going to be anathema to anyone who both adheres to the traditions of men invented by Calvin and is alive during the modern era with "the dictatorship of relativism" reigning supreme.

God help us all.

Roberto Jung said...

Also...

"I have over 650 posted dialogues. If they are with regular Christians, who act normally and cordially in debate, I get along fine with anyone. You would readily see that if you have read much of my writing, and the dialogues I have done. But anti-Catholic Protestants cannot do that. They have too much hostility. Nor can anti-Protestant Catholics."

I've never encountered the writings of an anti-Protestant Catholic online, actually. Who are some of the worst such cases?

Dave Armstrong said...

Some strains of Catholic "traditionalists" have anti-Protestant tendencies. But even then, they are rarely even remotely as hostile as anti-Catholics on the whole are.

Dan Rodger said...

Steve is obviously intelligent..he's just rude by the looks of things, thankfully not all protestants are like that.

Enjoying having a look around your blog though.

Lavender Darwin said...

I'm actually a big fan of Triablogue. Not a lot of Christian men have the talent, skill and conviction to stand up to atheism and cults like Catholicism. Instead of criticising you should take some lessons from Steve's apologetic skills.

Dave Armstrong said...

Heaven forbid that I ever sink to the level that Steve has descended to. If I did, I would hope my friends would have sense enough to persuade me to cease doing apologetics altogether.

I agree that he does good work against atheism (in-between the ubiquitous insults). If he could temper his rapier wit and slanderous pen, he could do a lot more good.

Hays doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to Catholicism: as is the case with every anti-Catholic apologists I have yet encountered. It would help if they at least knew what it was that they were opposing. But invariably they do not.

Dave Armstrong said...

I have added more replies to the end, in response to additional ultra-ridiculous Hays' remarks and charges, as of 12:30 PM EST, 8-26-11.

Roberto Jung said...

Lavender,

If Catholicism is a "cult", what is Calvinism? Its (sometimes novel) doctrines are based on the ideas of one man, which are accepted unquestioningly by its followers. Calvin has no authority to bind our consciences other than his own proclamation to that effect. (NB: I'm not calling Calvinism a "cult", just making a preposterous argument to make a point.)

Have you read anything by a Catholic about Catholicism, or restricted yourself to peruse the works of anti-Catholics about Catholicism? You should consider the former as a very wise and worthy option.

Jae said...

Roberto,

I hear you bro and you are right. These guys from the Calvinist camp (Lavender) would rather believe in men who lived 1,500 years later than men who have **seen and heard** the original 12 Apostles themselves 2,000 years ago, boggles any mind.

Even if you put that in any Court of Law, their "witnesses" have no credibility because they didn't witness anything at all, they are not there, unlike the Patristic Fathers who are genuine "witnesses" will be accepted by the Court and theirs only accepted by a "Kangaroo court".

They just keep on pointing to the Bible as their sole Authority where actually and in reality the ultimate sole authority rest on each own's conscience. When one of these protestants suspected that his church or pastor is teaching heresy they are free to leave their church (protestant church authority is really useless anyways - not binding to any member's conscience) shop for another church that would agree with his own idea and interpretation of what he thinks the Bible says. This is the "primacy of conscience" from our friends Turrentinfan, James White etc an idea that runs contrary to the Scripture and nowhere found in the Scripture.

In other words, Sola Scriptura amounts to, "Whoever agrees with me are right, whoever disagrees with me are all wrong", a mantra of relativism.

Besides the fact the an inanimate object (any book including the Bible) can't interpret itself. Who will decide of who got it right and who got it wrong? The Bible? what a silly idea besides the fact that the dispute started from the Bible in the first place.

Roberto Jung said...

Jae,

Very good post.

Worse still is that these ignorant heretics arrogate to themselves the right to determine who is and who is not a Christian--a right, because of the novelty of their sects, they can lay no claim to possessing. I mean, would you take seriously the proclamation by Manichaean apologists of the non-Christian status of all their orthodox opponents, except those who in appearance remained orthodox but, secretly dissenting, really agreed on the major points with the Manichean position?

If differences over soteriology render Catholics non-Christians in the eyes of such Calvinists and Reformed Baptists, why shouldn't differences over sacramentalism render Anglicans non-Christians too?

Pope James declared in his 1995 debate with the esteemed Dave that sacramentalism does in fact make Catholics non-Christians. Why White then cites Anglicans like Lightfoot and Salmon against Catholic beliefs baffles me to no end: it would be as bizarre as if he cited a Mormon apologist while arguing that the Early Church, Reformed Baptist as everyone knows it was not, went into complete apostasy sometime between 100 and 325 AD.

I'd pay a lot of money to be present--just to see their reactions of indescribable dismay--when these heretics find out at death that (1) judgment includes examination of works, not just faith, and (2) heaven involves "ritualistic" liturgy (if the book of Revelation is anything to go by).

Jon said...

Hays doesn't know what he is talking about when it comes to Catholicism: as is the case with every anti-Catholic apologists I have yet encountered.

I would suggest that it's not that Steve doesn't know Catholicism. Maybe he does and maybe he doesn't. I would suggest that all anti-Catholics will be perceived by you as not understanding Catholicism.

I had the pleasure of meeting a philosopher from Wisconsin by the name of Keith Parsons. We were talking about Calvinism. I believe Parsons was Arminian. He told us that once he met Norman Geisler and Geisler says to him "Either you are failing to understand my view (so called "moderate Calvinism") or I'm not explaining it well enough." Parsons responded as follows. "There's a third option. Maybe I understand it properly and I reject it." Geisler doesn't allow that and I don't think you do either.

Is there a test you could offer which would demonstrate whether or not I understood Catholicism? I think I understand it quite well. But I don't think you admit that. What I found in our dialogues is the imperfections of typed communication allowed certain misunderstandings which permitted you to claim that I didn't understand Catholicism. My belief was that if my statements had been properly understood they would have showed that I do understand. So I think sometimes it's imperfect communication that leads you to this conclusion. I wonder if this applies to Salmon and other opponents of Catholicism.

Dave Armstrong said...

I would suggest that all anti-Catholics will be perceived by you as not understanding Catholicism.

Certainly, because it corresponds to fact. I've never met one who didn't, these past 20 years. They are abysmally ignorant. It's my field; I know my stuff; I defend it, so I know when someone doesn't know what they are talking about, just as a physicist or an astronomer readily knows that someone is ignorant of their field and pretends to have knowledge that they don't possess. It ain't rocket science.

Dave Armstrong said...

It was surely the case that you didn't understand how Catholic infallibility works, when we discussed Galileo.

Whatever else you know about Catholicism, I can't say. But unless you have read a good amount of material written by Catholics, chances are you would be in the dark on many Catholic topics and our internal understanding.

There are Protestants who understand Catholicism quite well, and simply reject it, as you say. Norman Geisler is one, as seen in his book about Catholics and evangelicals. He still made easily refuted arguments, but he understood the opposing view.

I've yet to meet an anti-Catholic Protestant, however, who understood Catholicism enough to even make a coherent argument against it. They don't get it, and hence, they don't know how to argue properly, and are easily shot down when they try.

Ben said...

Jon,

Is there a test you could offer which would demonstrate whether or not I understood Catholicism?

Well, Jon, for my part, I would simply suggest you ask yourself whether you acknowlege the following very basic, but extremely important fact, of Roman Catholicism, viz, that Catholics are, and always have been, in communion with that church praised by St. Paul (Romans 1:8). Imagine! Catholics actually have a letter from an apostle - an inspired one at that! Could any Protestant church ever lay claim to such a thing?!

Please take moment and look at this and this . Maybe also preview this book. And here's a couple more tests to apply from Augustine: 1 2

Dave,

I've yet to meet an anti-Catholic Protestant, however, who understood Catholicism enough to even make a coherent argument against it.

Hard to be coherent I suppose, when so many anti-catholics carry about the burden of great hostility toward the Church. But why such anger? Could it be rooted in an inherited spiritual melancholy? See this and this

Mr. Aljoriz Dublin said...

Dan,
I hope you don't mind me sharing although you are far more mature than I; I had the same experience of someone not getting my joke. In my culture, we simply let it slide and pray silently.

I will always read your blog, amusing read always although the sheer number of words may give me a nosebleed at times.

Dave Armstrong said...

If there are too many words here, just skip every other one. That will cut the volume by 50%. :-)

Actually, my trend has been greatly toward shorter posts in the last 3-4 years.

Jon said...

Ben, whether or not I accept certain Catholic claims as correct really has no bearing on whether or not I understand Catholic beliefs. I could be an absolutely lunatic and believe the world started 100 years ago and the rest is memories implanted by aliens. The proof that I understand Catholic claims is not in whether or not I agree with Catholic claims, but whether or not I know that this is what Catholics happen to believe, even if I don't.

Your test is the same test Dave used in the Galileo thread he referred to. Catholics say the Pope is infallible in matters of faith and morals under certain conditions. I understand this is what Catholics believe. But I didn't accept that this was a reasonable criterion as applied to Galileo. My belief is that sometimes issues of faith overlap issues of science, and so the claim that the question was not in the papal purview was unreasonable. Dave confuses acceptance of his argument with understanding Catholic teaching.

I offered a hypothetical. Suppose Mormons made erroneous claims and afterwards said that the claims don't demonstrate anything because the prophet didn't spin around three times after he said them, and the spinning criterion came along rather late in the day. I can understand that Mormon teaching is that the prophet is only infallible when he spins 3 times after an utterance. But I don't accept it as reasonable. For Dave this would mean I don't understand Mormon teaching.

And this is why Dave offers no test to evaluate whether or not I understand Catholicism. Tests can confirm or deny claims, so he doesn't want to stick his neck out.

I've read "Surprised by Truth" which includes Dave's conversion story. I've read such books as "Not by Scripture Alone" and "Not by Faith Alone." I've read BC Butler's argument against George Salmon. I've listened to many debates on the topic. Read Jimmy Akin's book on justification. Read Mark Shea's "By What Authority." Listened to many lectures from Scott Hahn and Tim Staples. In fact I went to see Gerry Matatics give a lecture. Dave, please don't respond by confusing the issue and pretending I accept Matatics as an orthodox Catholic. Read Karl Keating's Catholicism and Fundamentalism.

None of that matters I guess. Because I don't accept Dave's arguments this means I don't understand Catholicism. Further, nobody does. Except maybe Geisler (who's book on Catholicism I also read). Personally I think Dave allows this because Geisler allows that Catholics are saved.

I would suggest here that proving I understand Catholicism is rather like showing the existence of a transitional fossil to a YEC. No matter what you produce it's merely evidence of one of God's unique creatures.

Dave Armstrong said...

I think you have a better than average understanding, but still a long way to go. Fair enough? For a former devotee of James White, that's pretty blasted good!

Ben said...

Jon,

Here's a test of whether one understands Catholicism or not: Luke 24:47.

“And repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

For Augustine, this passage represents the very essence of the Church, of the idea of "Catholic"! See this

And again from Augustine

Jon said...

That's probably as good as it will ever get from you, Dave, so I'll take it.

Ben I think you still fail to distinguish between understanding Catholicism and accepting Catholicism.

Ken said...

Jon wrote:
"There's a third option. Maybe I understand it properly and I reject it." Geisler doesn't allow that and I don't think you do either.

Jon makes a good case here.

I understand Roman Catholicism and reject it.

Dave Armstrong said...

That's probably as good as it will ever get from you, Dave, so I'll take it.

A LOT better than I get from your buddy DaGoods, ain't it, Jon? :-) I have said neither that you are dishonest, nor a "dunderhead," etc.

Dave Armstrong said...

Ken,

You do NOT understand Catholicism very well, as has been borne out in many dialogues I have myself had with you.

Jon the atheist has a better grasp of it than you do.

Ken said...

That is just your opinion that I don't understand Roman Catholicism. My point is that Jon makes a good point that there is a third option, and not just your "either- or" mentality about consistent Protestants.

Dave Armstrong said...

Some people do understand it and still disagree. I gave Geisler as an example. White says HE is not a true Protestant, so you do the same on your side: define who is in and out of the circle. White said I was never a true Protestant in our first debate, because I was Arminian.

I know a lot more about Catholicism (being my own belief, and as an apologist) than you do. Therefore, my opinion as to your knowledge holds a lot more weight).

Or do you wish to argue that you understand Catholicism better than I do? That's par for the course with anti-Catholics. TAO has made this very argument many times.

It's entirely possible that an anti-Catholic Protestant could conceivably understand that which they detest. I have never seen it yet, and I can't change what my experience has been. I've seen several Protestants who aren't anti-Catholic, who understand the catholic position (e.g., Dr. Edwin Tait, with whom I have sparred many times).

Ken said...

In my opinion, Norman Geisler is an inconsistent Evangelical Protestant. ( he is an Arminian Protestant who only believes in "Once Saved Always Saved". He rejects the other 4 points of historic Calvinism.)

But his book is pretty good - it was the first book I got in trying to understanding the ECT issue in 1995; and then this "Scott Hahn-Matatics" movement of former Evangelicals you are a part of; along with Surprised by Truth (with your testimony) and Karl Keating's (Fundamentalism and Catholicism) book; and others.

I could only find a few things that I really disagreed with in Geisler's book on Catholicism (Agreements and Differences; with Ralph McKenzie), and that is his understanding of the history of justification and that Romanism is a true church. The RCC is historic; but not Biblical; it started adding corruptions after the Scriptures were completed; and then it grew from there, when the Roman Church started claiming it's bishop was "bishop of bishops" - that was a major corruption; and then later it left the gospel formally at the Council of Trent. (1545-1563)

So, without digging that book out again, etc. - I understood it; so I think I do understand Roman Catholicism.

So, again, I think Jon's third category is right.

Dave Armstrong said...

Not based on what I've seen in my dialogues with you (many garden variety fallacies and near-slogans used by you), but there are degrees to these things.

Dave Armstrong said...

Let me flip it back to you, Ken: do I (and did I) understand true Protestantism, so that I fully understood what I had to reject when I became a Catholic?

If you say that I didn't, then why do you object when I say the same thing about what you reject (Catholicism)?

If you say I did, then you have to ask yourself how such a thing is possible: to reject this glorious truth you think is more present in Protestantism than in Catholicism. The usual explanation is that converts like myself didn't understand what we left, or that we are "hybrid" Christians, who mix the two together in an unsavory mix (Hays' dumb and cynical opinion).

So that is said about us all the time, but all of a sudden when we say the exact same thing from our perspective, flipped around, you guys don't accept it.

One can only demonstrate what one truly knows and doesn't know by debate. I've done it with you, and readers can judge those.

Ken said...

As far as I can tell, you did understand the Arminian brand of Protestantism you were in, and you rejected it later for Roman Catholicism. You sincerely thought that the arguments for RC were stronger; as I sincerely think the arguments for Reformed Evangelicalism are stronger.

Is that fair enough?

I accept Jon's third option for you, just as I think it is true for me, understanding, but rejecting.

Dave Armstrong said...

I think you know more than Jimbo White does, cuz he doesn't even understand that Arminians are good Protestants. :-) He seems to spend about half or more of his time now fighting them, rather than us evil, wicked Catholics, atheists, etc.

Ken said...

No; he knows much more about RC than I do; -

He says that Arminians are inconsistent and are afraid to actually listen to the text of Romans 9, for example. They, and most people who do object to Calvinism actually object to God the same way that the apostle Paul says humans do in Romans 9:19-23.

I have heard him in person (within the last 2 years) at a church in South Atlanta very clearly say, during the question and answer time, that some Reformed folks go too far who say that Arminians are not Christians -

but he debates them with vigor - you should listen to the radio debate/exchange he did with Dr. Michael Brown (a Charismatic Arminian Jewish Christian)- who Dr. White respects very much and calls him a brother in the Lord. He is just wanting those that are very adamant against Calvinism, like Dave Hunt, Norman Geisler, Ergun Caner and George Bryson to be consistent, and exegetical.

Ben said...

Jon,

I think you still fail to distinguish between understanding Catholicism and accepting Catholicism.

Noted. ;) But do you understand unity?

Ken,

The RCC is historic; but not Biblical;

Actually, it’s both! See Paul's letter to the Catholic Church at Rome!

Catholics are and have always been in communion with this greatest (biblical) Church!

Protestants on the other hand, are not only not in communion with the Roman Church (or any biblical church for that matter!), they actively oppose the apostolic see.

it started adding corruptions after the Scriptures were completed;

And no one saw fit to correct these latter “corruptions”? If only there had been some Protestants back then (the barking would've been deafening!) But then again, this only proves there really were no Protestants back then! ;)

But anyway, Augustine begs to differ with your assesment! ;)

and then it grew from there, when the Roman Church started claiming it's bishop was "bishop of bishops" - that was a major corruption;

I believe it was the Reformers, particularly Luther and Calvin, who set themselves up – for all impractical purposes - as “bishop of bishops”- and in the worst possible sense. These self-proclaimed leaders, you may recall, tolerated no appeal from their imperial dictates. Contrast this to the Roman bishops, who never set themselves up as supreme bishops, but rather, like the Roman Church itself, were simply recognized by the whole Christian world as having the preeminence because they succeeded to the highest see, to the chair of Peter. See this, and maybe note this.

and then later it left the gospel formally at the Council of Trent. (1545-1563)

How??