Thursday, November 24, 2011

Anti-Catholic TAO Compares Catholics Who Want to Help Pal John Bugay During His Financial Distress, to the King of Sodom (While John is Similar to Abraham and the Prophet Elisha); His Sophistical Bible Butchery and Eisegesis Exposed

This has to do with the sordid incident described in the post, John Bugay (Presbyterian Anti-Catholic Apologist) Refuses (and Returns) Charitable Donations from Catholics for His Wife's Serious Illness, Insults Donors as "Mockers" With Nefarious Motives, Etc.

The facts of the matter are easily summarized:

1. John Bugay's wife Bethany is suffering from an early manifestation of leukemia.
2. John has openly solicited funds on the Internet, explaining that his family's income has been reduced by some 40% as a result of her illness. Others (such as TAO himself) have advertised this, in order to solicit more contributions.

3. I posted on my blog, John's PayPal address that he provided, in order to raise more funds for his family. I  also cross-posted it on my Facebook page (over 3300 friends) and Twitter account (some 725 followers at the time),

4. I explained that I could particularly relate to his wife's plight since my brother Gerry (died in 1998) suffered from leukemia, and I was, in fact, his bone marrow donor.

5. Fellow apologist Devin Rose (as we later learned) sent an undisclosed amount to John and his wife. I had planned on sending $50, and only mentioned it because (as I stated):

If someone is trying to raise money and asking others to contribute, then it is reasonable to expect them to join in as well. And that is the reason I mention this (along with the pathetic response from John Bugay); otherwise I would have done it without at least revealing the amount.

6. John Bugay refused and returned Devin's donation and asked me to take down the links to his PayPal account, attacking our motivations, writing:

In the meantime, please take down the link to our PayPal account. One donation has come in from this bunch of mockers, and I’ve returned it. And I will return other donations if I can identify them from you or yours as well. . . .

Dave, I'm sorry about the loss of your brother, and the other tragedies in your family. But rather than allow such tragedies to exhort you to humility, your whole enterprise may be summed up with this verse: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get." I want to remain as far away from you as possible.

7. When pressed in a combox on my site, Bugay claimed that he did receive donations from Catholics: just not particularly wicked ones like myself and Devin Rose, or (by strong implication) anyone who follows my blog, or my writings in general:

I do "gratefully accept donations for behalf of my sick wife". Including from Roman Catholics. My sole issue is the vehicle here, and the ("not humble") boasting herewith. Dave Armstrong is going to boast. He will either be able to say, "Ha, look at how great I am, I gave John Bugay my last $50.00", or he will say, "The nerve, I offered to give John Bugay my last $50.00, and he turned it down". Either way he is going to boast. At least this way, I am not sullied by his boasting, and nor am I beholden to him in any way.

8. Accordingly, John went on to insult my entire readership in numerous ways, which I documented as a prime example of how an anti-Catholic Calvinist (not all Calvinists!) exercises his faith, with wicked judgments of the interior motivations of others, including (oftentimes, generally speaking) determinations that someone is unregenerate (hence, totally depraved, in Calvinist theology), or not among the elect (a presumption condemned by John Calvin himself). He described my readers (that's you!) in the following ways: "rogue's gallery," [hanging out on my blog is] "a sure sign of bad character," "bottom feeders . . . who can't deal with the truth," "mockers" [several times], "those of you with the seared consciences." The latter is an extreme judgment itself, drawn (presumably) from 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

9. John made sweeping apologies when pressed (though they barely seemed even serious, given the manner in which he presented them), but later said that he retracted nothing, and wouldn't specify  exactly what he was apologizing for, when I pressed him. He also refused to identify those that he thought had "seared consciences" when urged repeatedly to do so by Sean Patrick and myself. At that point I shut down the combox, because John was clearly playing and not being straightforward in his interactions with us. He wanted to make sweeping judgments, but lacked the courage of his convictions to apply them to individuals by name, or explain the rationale for the slanders. He proceeded to put up a post in order to continue the insults and aspersions on all of us, over on his own blog, Cryablogue.

Now, lo and behold, today I discovered a post (11-24-11) by the notorious anti-Catholic "Turretinfan" (always affectionately referred to on this blog as "TAO": The Anonymous One). Its title is referring to John Bugay: "Comparing My Brother to Abraham and Elisha." This is an altogether pathetic exercise in torturing the Bible into supposedly offering support for John's abominable, indefensible behavior. Here it is in its entirety (bolding his own, except for the Scripture passages, which I bolded):

One of my brethren recently has been criticized by a number of people because he did not accept one or more gifts [1].  There is a lot more that could be said about people whose pride is offended when their gifts are refused [2], but my brother's own attitude was the thing that caught my eye.  It reminded me of this:

Genesis 14:22-24
And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich: save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion. [3]

I suppose I could have thought instead of another gift refusal:

2 Kings 5:15-16  & 26-27
And he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and came, and stood before him: and he said, Behold, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel: now therefore, I pray thee, take a blessing of thy servant. But he said, As the LORD liveth, before whom I stand, I will receive none. And he urged him to take it; but he refused.
And he said unto him, Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot to meet thee? Is it a time to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards, and vineyards, and sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and maidservants? The leprosy therefore of Naaman shall cleave unto thee, and unto thy seed for ever. And he went out from his presence a leper as white as snow. [4]

Is my brother Abraham or Elisha?  Obviously not. [5] His circumstances differ, as do the circumstances of his refusal. [6] That said, I think that only a Biblically illiterate person could think that there cannot be good reasons for refusing gifts. [7]

I shall comment on portions preceded by the bracketed (and blue) numbers:

[1] It was not solely a criticism that he refused a gift, as if no one can ever do such a thing for any reason, but rather, it also concerned the outrageous accusations and rationale that accompanied his refusal, and the extreme lack of charity and judgmentalism exhibited therein. By his presenting it the way he does, TAO eliminates one of the important considerations. But he has little concern for being fair to us, of course. His enterprise is determined to tear us down, no matter what is true or right. For the anti-Catholic, after all, Catholics must always be wrong, if they disagree with an anti-Catholic. It can't possibly be otherwise.

[2] This is, of course, a slanderous exercise in mind-reading. It has nothing to do with "pride" whatsoever, anymore than it had to do with an alleged "boastful" spirit of yours truly. It was an act of charity, for the reasons explained: my own experience with my brother, leading to special empathy; and Devin Rose's sincere desire to help. The refusal to accept these donations amounted to calling good, evil. Devin explained why he did it:

But know that I did not make it in mockery or cunning. We happen to have enough right now to help others with, and that includes Catholics, Protestants, non-Christians, whoever is in need. So I donated a small amount to help y'all. I understand that you think Catholicism is evil and so you didn't accept it. God bless. 

My good friend Paul Hoffer provided an excellent response to this madness in the combox of TAO's post (TAO "edited" it, but thankfully, more than enough remains to amply make the point):

Mr. Fan, cherry picking biblical verses to justify churlish behavior is beneath you. Abraham did not take anything from the king of Sodom as a reward because the previous chapter (13:2) showed that Abraham's material wealth came from God's blessing upon him not due to the beneficence of others. Elisha refused the proffered gift from Naaman because he wanted to demonstrate that God's grace is not something that can be bought. Mr. Bugay refused the kindness out of sinful pride, no more, no less. Thank goodness the Blessed Virgin Mary did not refuse the Gift God gave her.

TAO, utterly blind to the faults of his good buddy and comrade-in-arms, simply projected the faults he exhibits in droves, to Paul: "I see you continue to attribute the worst of motives to your theological adversaries. If you could read minds, your expression of your opinions here might have some weight. Since, of course, you don't, these sorts of posts by you just serve as a memorial to your character." Paul replied again:
I do not pretend to read minds. That said, I have no problem calling a spade a spade when such is obvious. Mr. Bugay's conduct was uncharitable-pure and simple. In the examples from Scripture that you gave, the offer of gifts were turned down, not because of some sort of discerning of the motives of the offeror but because the offerees were concerned that acceptance would have diminished the grace of God. Mr. Bugay did not state that as a concern. Rather, he argued that acceptance of the gifts would give his donors some sort of edge over him rather than attribute to them the possibility that the gifts were made out of kindness. Considering that he rejected gifts that were not meant for him, but for his wife, demonstrates an unchristian sort of selfishness, not towards his donors necessarily, but certainly towards his wife.

Let's take this a bit further, even if the donors had "bragged" about their donations, how does that affect Mr. Bugay? Doe the acceptance of money that was offered without strings give a donor some sort of shamanistic power over the donee? Of course not.

And what does the Scripture say on the matter? Does not Our Lord tell us at Luke 18:9-14 that if one give gifts and exalt himself for doing so, that Our Father in Heaven will cause that one to be humbled? Being gracious and generous when we are able to do so does not give us bragging or boasting rights since all things in truth come from a generous and loving God. The Word of God makes it clear that all that we have comes from God and we are only stewards of those gifts. It would be to the donor's shame, and not to the detriment of the donee if the donor were so crass to brag or boast about re-gifting something that Our Father in Heaven gave us in the first place.

I hope Mr. Bugay will change his mind and his heart and allow anyone who wishes to give to do so.

God bless!

[3] Comparing Catholics (or at least yours truly and my readers) to the king of Sodom, is (according to the warped sense in which TAO intended it) its own refutation. Note how this freely presupposes that we are utterly wicked and only deserving of God's judgment, just like Sodom and Gomorrah. Our acts of charity towards Protestants (even anti-Catholic ones who despise what we believe and detest us personally) are supposedly the equivalent of the king of Sodom offering a gift (for this is the analogy he attempts to draw).

But it's a false analogy, in any event, not applicable at all to the present scenario, even considered apart from the hostile anti-Catholic baggage eisegetically attached to it. As Paul Hoffer noted, Abraham had means already, as a wealthy man ("very rich": Gen 13:2).

Secondly, Abraham explains the refusal himself: so that no one would think that the king had made him rich, rather than God (Gen 12:2). That has nothing to do with John or his situation. It is no analogy whatever. John needs money to pay his bills at present. It's not at all like Abraham. Much as TAO would like to think, John is not nearly in the class of Abraham ("I knew Abraham. Abraham was a friend of mine. And John [half-smile], you are no Abraham"), let alone the prophet Elisha, even though TAO thinks both are quite apt comparisons. And yet we are the ones accused of massive spiritual pride and boastfulness . . .

Thirdly, it clearly is not a refusal in principle from Abraham: to not accept anything whatever from a wicked king -- not in its totality; otherwise, he would have absolutely refused any gift. But he did not do so, since he accepted food and other provisions for the men who accompanied him. This means that the analogy, insofar as it was a wicked man (us evil Catholics) trying to help the righteous man (the godly anti-Catholic Calvinists like John and TAO who so readily exhibit God's love), fails completely, since in order for it to hold, it would have to be total refusal in principle, based on the source (and Abraham's refusal as not that): based on the fact of the giver's wickedness (which was not the rationale Abraham himself provided).

Fourthly, there appears to have been a prior oath involved, on Abraham's part (which would be central in his refusal). The Eerdmans Bible Commentary explains:

His oath was probably sworn before Melchizedek. Vassals were customarily allowed to retain the spoil of battles fought for their suzerains, but it was the latter's prerogative to stipulate this in their treaties. The king of Sodom apparently sought to assume that role but Abraham rejected the relationship. Vassal treaties prohibited subordination to any other royal benefactors. Rejection of the king of Sodom's proposal was the consistent negative counterpart to Abram's positive oath of allegiance to Yahweh as his covenant Lord.

This, too, obviously has nothing to do with John's situation. He took no oath to refuse any assistance from Catholics. He has even stated now that he would accept money from Catholics: just not utterly wicked, boastful, arrogant ones like me and Devin Rose.

Therefore, it is a clear case of "Bible butchery" and eisegesis: for which TAO is frequently notorious. He assumes that he is such a profound exegete, yet he misses the very simplest and most important elements of the passage that he co-opts for infamous use: for a lost cause: justifying John Bugay's outrageous behavior. It's an absolutely classic, textbook example of how the Bible can be abused for just about any unjust or unworthy cause.

[4] The attempted analogy of Naaman the Syrian leper to John's situation fails for similar reasons: as completely inapplicable and irrelevant. First of all, Elisha the prophet bore Naaman no discernible ill will (as John does towards myself, and my readers). After all, he was the willing instrument of a miraculous cure of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:10, 14). If Elisha were "against" the man altogether he certainly would not have healed him, since we see that he caused his own unfaithful servant Gehazi to be afflicted with leprosy (5:26-27). Thus, it follows that he didn't reject his offer simply because he was an evil, wicked man.

Secondly, obviously TAO attributes to me and to my readers a deliberately low, ignominious status: equivalent to this person who was the captain of the army of Syria: Israel's sworn enemy. But of course, only a biblically illiterate person (to borrow TAO's phraseology) would be unaware that the northern kingdom of Israel (where Elisha preached), rebelled against King David's kingdom of Judah, and had uniformly wicked kings and was unfaithful to God's law from the start and in perpetuity. It was God's will, in fact, that Syria win in battle with Israel:

2 Kings 5:1 (RSV, as throughout) Na'aman, commander of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master and in high favor, because by him the LORD had given victory to Syria. He was a mighty man of valor, but he was a leper. 

Thus Naaman was not altogether wicked, and is not presented as such. He is presented as a man with pride and flaws, but not as utterly depraved.

Thirdly, the refusal was not an absolute matter of principle, just as in Abraham's case (where he accepted gifts for his colleagues). Elisha, too, accepted gifts on occasion, as we see in the previous chapter:

2 Kings 4:42 A man came from Ba'al-shal'ishah, bringing the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley, and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Eli'sha said, "Give to the men, that they may eat."

Ba'al-shal'ishah may have even been a heathen center, connected with Baal (as the name implies); the text doesn't say (and Bible dictionaries offer little aid to learn anything further about it). But in any event, Elisha was not totally opposed to gifts, and his refusal is not said to be simply because it came from a foreigner and past military enemy.

Fourthly, the refusal in this particular instance was similar to Abraham's (and thus also has no analogy to John Bugay's situation whatever). The Eerdmans Bible Commentary states:

In a world of false prophets and wonder-workers, the true prophet of Yahweh could not afford to give the impression that he was living off his office, that he was prophesying for a morsel of bread or anything else. Neither could he give any indication that he was responsible for the ability to heal; this was the work of the Lord.

The renowned Jamieson, Fausset, Brown commentary concurs:

After the miraculous cure, Naaman returned to Elisha, to whom he acknowledged his full belief in the sole supremacy of the God of Israel and offered him a liberal reward. But to show that he was not actuated by the mercenary motives of the heathen priests and prophets, Elisha, though he accepted presents on other occasions ( 2 Kings 4:42 ), respectfully but firmly declined them on this, being desirous that the Syrians should see the piety of God's servants, and their superiority to all worldly and selfish motives in promoting the honor of God and the interests of true religion.

St. Paul reflects this same thinking, in refusing to give any impression that he was preaching for money (1 Cor 9:18: "that in my preaching I may make the gospel free of charge, not making full use of my right in the gospel"). But that was his choice and "reward": not an obligation for all, since he mentions his "right" and since, in the same passage, he makes an extended case for the just remuneration of workers in the kingdom of God (1 Cor 9:4-14).

Likewise, our Lord, in sending out His disciples to preach, tells them to take nothing (Mk 6:8; Lk 9:3), but does not require them to refuse offerings (implied in Lk 9:4, since they are staying at a house and obviously have to eat). Indeed Christ and His disciples were aided in tangible ways, as Scripture reports: 

Luke 8:1, 3 Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, preaching and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, . . . [3] and Joan'na, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means.

Clearly, none of this has any relation whatsoever to John Bugay's financial situation.  If God were providing his needs without the necessity to ask for help, he obviously wouldn't be soliciting online for funds. Therefore, his needs aren't met, and his refusal to accept our aid was not because of some high principle, as with Elisha, but due to his personal contempt of us and detestation for what he falsely, vainly believes to be our nefarious motives (which likely flow, I contend, from various false principles of the anti-Catholic distortion of Calvinism: itself wracked with many serious false teachings). Thus, there is no analogy here whatever.

[5] Then why entitle the paper, "Comparing My Brother to Abraham and Elisha" in the first place? Aren't titles supposed to directly represent the main theme in a paper? This is typical in anti-Catholic analyses also: talking out of both sides of one's mouth. TAO doesn't want to compare John Bugay to Abraham and Elisha, yet he does. He draws elaborate analogies (including charitably comparing Catholics to the king of Sodom), then partially renounces them later to cover his butt (to use a colloquialism). He's like the corrupt politician who will say one thing here and another contradictory utterance there, so he can cite his own words to either end later, according to expedience and cynical opportunity.

[6] They sure do: so much so that there is no analogy whatever, and TAO's attempt utterly fails, as just shown. These passage plainly have no bearing on the case at hand, and do not justify Bugay's outrageously uncharitable response and his classifying good acts and intentions as evil. Bugay fails a fundamental test of a mature Christian believer:

Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Hebrews 5:14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their faculties trained by practice to distinguish good from evil. 

And for my part, I am following the Pauline injunction:

Romans 14:16 So do not let your good be spoken of as evil.

[7] There are conceivable legitimate reasons (based on the Bible), speaking generally; of course. I deny that the present scenario is one of them, and I strongly deny that the Bible passages produced provide any analogy or rationale whatsoever for John's indefensible behavior. 

What else is new in anti-Catholic eisegesis: enlisted for the noble cause of slandering Catholic brethren in Christ and justifying indefensible uncharitable wickedness on their part: to actually mock and slander and dispute outright, the motivations of people who simply want to help a person experiencing  financial troubles brought on by his wife's leukemia? And all of this in the name of Christ?! Heaven forbid! If I didn't speak out vociferously against such despicable outrages of behavior I would be lax in my duty as a Christian apologist and teacher.

This is not Christian behavior; it's not right, and is in itself evil: ultimately orchestrated and cheered on by the devil himself. That doesn't make the persons doing and saying these things demons or utterly evil. I am simply referring to the wickedness of these particular acts. Unlike anti-Catholic Calvinists and their false doctrines of total depravity and a "sin nature," Catholics have no difficulty in distinguishing a person from good or bad acts that the person commits.

* * *

Here is TAO's entire reply (he doesn't get it, as always):

I see that a certain lay apologist (apparently eager to debate me) has posted a 3800+ word response to the brief article above. Ultimately, it seems he is forced to concede the point that there can be good reasons for refusing gifts. So, given that he concedes that point, it seems unnecessary for me to provide further reply.

Yes; it always takes far more words to refute lies and eisegesis: a lot more to refute any falsehood or lousy piece of logic than the relatively little amount of ink that it takes to spew them out. Someone could say, "you abuse your wife, cheat on your income taxes, and torture cats." That's exactly twelve words. But how many words does anyone think would be required to adequately refute all that?

It's the same here. TAO is a very clever sophist, who uses all sorts of argumentative techniques. He universally fails when dealing with Catholicism, but it still takes considerable work to expose his various polemical and rhetorical tactics. This was also an argument from analogy, which is more complex than many forms of argumentation in the first place. Unlike TAO, I actually did some in-depth, serious analysis of the biblical texts that he trotted out and eisegeted. That takes some ink, too.

So let TAO carp about word counts, and his "pupil" Bugay bellyache about how fast (four hours is hardly "lightning speed") and how much I write, and about cutting-and-pasting. That's fine. For my part, I will make reasoned arguments . . . Whether these guys grasp my reasoning or not is not my concern. I know they almost always won't, but they're not my intended audience, anyway.



Adomnan said...

TAO's apparent reasoning: Abraham and Elisha refused gifts and had good reasons for doing so. Therefore, John Bugay has a good reason for refusing gifts.

That's what is called a "non-sequitur."

Dave Armstrong said...

Revised slightly and tightened up a bit at 4:53 PM ET.

The comparison he draws between Bugay and a patriarch and a prophet falls completely flat. It is abominable hermeneutics.

Dave Armstrong said...

See TAO's "reply" that I added to the end of the paper at 7:45 PM EST. He essentially reiterates Adomnan's accurate description of his "logic."