Roman Unity: If it Promotes Mother Rome, It's All Good
So goes the headline from James White's blog from January 6th, whereas that's a bit hyperbolic and not entirely true - let's take a look at White's blog:
01/06/2010 - James Whitesw: If anyone is counting, White states he began in "August of 1990" and since it is just January of 2010, that's not even two complete decades and "a few" would indicate more than two, generally at least three or more. So White begins his statements with an exaggeration of the truth [or perhaps it just seems to him to be more than a couple decades, nonetheless, he would be better served to have stated "nearly two decades of experience"].
My first moderated, public debate was on the subject of Roman Catholicism. It took place in August of 1990. Since I have a few decades of experience now,
I find myself shaking my head in disbelief at one particular fact over and over again: Rome's apologists just don't seem driven to work hard in their field.sw: I used to shake my head in disbelief at how White constantly attacks the persons he confronts before he even tries to deal with what they have said - but I don't anymore, it's so commonplace in reading his "debates" and bloggings that it can hardly be disbelieved anymore.
Further, they clearly observe the "throw everything including the kitchen sink in defense of Rome, no matter how objectively bad it is on a scholarly level."sw: (Yawn) more personal attacking - though this attack is on Catholic apologists as a whole, the attack is against each of them (us) personally as if we all observe the methodology he imputes upon us all.
Illustration: today Patrick Madrid took a shot at "Calvinists" in general on his blog. For someone who has yet, to my knowledge, to engage a Calvinist on the relevant subjects (of course I would, Patrick, let's set it up!) in debate,sw: White seems to think that "debates" are the best way to engage someone on a given subject. Whereas I can see some advantage to debating - often what happens is both sides walk away considering they have "won" the debate and little is actually accomplished. A more "engaging" discussion would be an "online/written debate." I would be more than willing to engage White in such - and have several times in the past - but White apparently doesn't like the fact that in such a written debate he's put on a more equal ground with his opponent. Little tricks that can sway or influence someone in a live debate don't work in a written debate. The fact that he's been caught in error MANY times in written debate is likely another reason he avoids such and prefers to go the testosterone way, mano y mano, because - as I will freely admit, he's quite talented in manipulating a live debate.
sw: Illustration - in 2001 White challenged me to a "live debate/discussion" on his "Dividing Line" webcast and I accepted. Previous to his challenge I had been discussing John 6 and the Eucharist and he challenged me to this discussion, I assumed, based upon those John 6 and the Eucharist discussions that when White proposed the topic of John 6 that indeed we'd discuss the same and I accepted. I prepared for a debate/discussion on the Eucharist and John 6 - he opened with a 5 minute opening statement which didn't even touch upon the Eucharistic meanings in John 6! Instead - he turned it into a Calvinstic discussion on predestination, etc. That was my first "live" debate, and I admit that I wasn't skilled enough at the time to refocus the discussion back to what actually prompted the challenge - and that's a tactic that he'd have a hard time pulling on me now. Anyway, the point is - he has talent in debating someone live, I do not deny that. My point is that being persuasive in a live debate does not necessarily equate to an accurate promotion of the truth. As for the 2001 encounter, in the "live" session I do not feel there was a true "winner" at all. White threw a curve ball at me, discussing something I was not prepared to discuss - but even though I don't believe I "won" that exchange, I did hold my own in answering him (and his callers, who went off on even more tangents). What IS clear from that exchange is in the non-live/written exchange, White abandoned the debate leaving many challenges unanswered (see link below).
I find his surface-level retorts somewhat amusing. But what is amazing are the three links he provides for, what he calls, "quite able" refutations of Calvinism. Two are ancient articles Jimmy Akin wrote years and years ago, neither of which provide much in the way of substance.sw: The objective reader here can see that White is not attacking ANY of the substance from Jimmy Akin's articles - and he admits there is SOME substance to those articles just not much in his not-so-humble opinion. White's only accusation against Akin's articles is the AGE of the articles! Truth, I'm sure the objective reader will affirm, is timeless so with the lack of ANY substance to White's presentation - it should be summarily dismissed.
And the third is to Dave Armstrong's series on Calvin! Now, with all due respect to ol' Dave Armstrong, he is one of the clearest examples of why past canon law prohibited laymen from engaging in public disputation in defense of Rome. Serious readers in the field realize that while Dave may stumble over a thoughtful argument once in a while, it is always to be found somewhere else. He simply does not produce original argumentation of any kind, and clearly does not understand the responses that have been offered to him over and over again.sw: Again we see that White merely attacks the person of Dave Armstrong. "Ol' Dave Armstrong," he says "is one of the clearest examples of why past canon law prohibited laymen from engaging in public disputation in defense of Rome." What White doesn't do is a) present us with the former canon law (as if that would apply today anyway) or b) any "examples" from Armstrongs literally dozens of references. No, it seems it was much easier for White to engage in character assassination (again) instead of any substantial argument against either Armstrong or Madrid. I fully expect, if he chooses to respond to me at all (which he pretty much avoids any direct responses to me anymore after I've been able to demonstrate and document his errors on too many occassions) that he will attempt the same with me, character assassination and no substantial arguments. I would be quite engaged if he were to prove me wrong on this point and actually deal with some substance.
So, we find Madrid once again pulling out of mothballs surface-level materials that are nearly two decades old, and promoting Dave Armstrong as "quite able" refutations of Reformed theology.sw: Actually, what we find is White once again participating in nothing more than the apologetics of personal destruction. He has not engaged a single amount of substance from either Madrid, Armstrong or Akin but merely engaged in personal attacks.
One is truly left wondering if these men really think this kind of material has real weight and meaning, or if they are just too bored to do serious work in the field. I will leave it to the reader to decide.sw: I am glad White leaves it to the reader to decide, for the objective reader will have to question who is really getting bored here and merely resorting to personal attacks and not engaging ANY substance AT ALL in this character assassination piece. And now, so I am not accused of the same thing I accuse White of, let's look at what White is critiquing and see if there's some substance there or not, shall we?
Here's Patrick Madrid's Blog:
Things are getting a little fidgety over in Calvinland, at least within the Sovereign Calvinist embassy to Free Republic. The Great Reformed Ping List is underway again, complete with some obligatory tub-thumping and chest-beating about their enemies' "anthropomorphic rantings" and how their solas are being "mightily assailed," etc., etc.sw: Well, not a lot of substance there, but he does refer to "The Great Reformed Ping List" which is being "revitalised" on FreeRepublic. In fact that's pretty much the whole of Madrid's blog is just a comment that this GRPL is being reactivated - and he takes a bit of interest or "fun" in watching them banter about...
It's kind of fun to watch (bad Latin grammar and all), but still, it's sad to see good people become so hopelessly entangled in the errors of the Calvinist religious system (some of which are quite ably refuted here, here, and here).sw: Now I grant you, Madrid does not get into examples of the "errors of the Calvinist religious system" here - but he does refer us to Armstrong and Akin. If White were doing a thorough refutation then he would have at least directly engaged those articles (Armstrong's is more of a list of articles) with at least some clear examples of where Armstrong and Akin have falsely represented Calvinism. White doesn't do that though, he merely attacks the persons of Madrid, Armstrong and Akin. So yes, let the reader decide - the objective reader can surely see who appears to be "bored" and who actually thinks it's "kind of fun to watch" such discourses. Madrid closes with a quote from the Free Republic forum:
Exurge, Calvinisti, et judica causam tuam...sw: So, where Madrid was only observing the "rennovation" of the GRPL and call to "swarm" the Calvinists, actually quoting something from that forum, White only attacks the persons of Madrid, Armstrong and Akin. Well, yes, he did attack the AGE of Akin's arguments - but again "age" has no relevance to truth. White does not assail ANY substance in Akin's articles. Oh, and if White is ready to really engage me yet, there are several unanswered challenges to him here:
Arise (some older mss still read 'Swarm'), O Calvinists, and plead your cause. The doctrines of grace are mightily assailed by those who would proclaim with their father, “I will be like the Most High.” Set forth the biblical case for a sovereign God who is jealous for His glory. Disallow through disputation (and lampooning when needed) the damnable errors of those who have refashioned the great sola doctrines into a salvation-helper gospel that exalts the fallen will of man.
From every corner, in every thread exalt the right of God to do whatsoever He pleaseth. Be not dismayed by persistent anthropocentric rantings. Blessed are you when they revile you for the sake of the truth. Happy are ye when the Servetus card is played and the strawmen are paraded before you for He who is enthroned in heaven reigns. http://patrickmadrid.blogspot.com/2010/01/calvinists-are-swarming-over-on-free.html
sw: I fully expect that if there is ANY answer to this at all, it will be scoffing, character assassination upon me and a complete avoidance of ANY substance at all. Will White deal with the fact that he misused Scripture in regard to 1 Cor. 3:10-15? Will White finally deal with the, at least 29 enumerated errors from our first live "debate" from his Dividing Line webcast? Again, I would be humbly pleased to be proven wrong in my prediction here and find that White actually respectfully responded to the challenges, or even ONE of the challenges before him. So yes, let the reader decide - and wait to see what sort of response, if any, is forthcoming.
PS- Slight edits made today, and I noticed the "white boxes" in the 1 Cor. 3:10-15 article have disappeared and will have to fix those later.