Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Funny. I do not recall being asked

Turretinfan waxes hyperbolic in his scorn for a certain Catholic apologist:
Not even his Catholic supporters buy it any more.
Really? I don't recall being asked my opinion. In fact, I seriously doubt that any of us were questioned about it - but maybe my unimportance has led to my being excluded. After all, who am I? No one of consequence. But if Dave is so contemptible in the eyes of Turretinfan and others, I can't help wondering why they don't just ignore him. It's not like there aren't other well-qualified Catholic apologists. Jimmy Akin comes to mind, or Karl Keating (or Catholic Answers generally), if they want a sparring partner.

As for me: scorn heaped upon someone that I respect is a lost cause if its purpose is to persuade me that I ought to return to the Protestant fold. I seriously doubt that I'm alone in feeling that way.


Mike Burgess said...

Not that he should, but he didn't ask me either. I'd love one day to see one of these guys in an in-depth exegetical, theological debate or discussion with a Scott Hahn, a Michael Barber, a Fr. Taft... you know, people with the kind of credentials they covet or demand.


Turretinfan said...

I based my comments on Catholic responses I read on the net. But since you have made a point of the fact that I didn't ask you, let me ask you: do you really believe that any of the people that Dave challenged are "petrified" with fear of debating Dave?

I suppose I could just ignore it, but this guy has been misrepresenting me since he first started interacting with me, beginning with this false accusation: ""Turretinfan" (who shows up here occasionally and then flees as soon as he is challenged) ...." (source)

The jig is up. Those characterizations simply aren't true. That doesn't mean, though, that there is nothing admirable about Dave.

I can respect certain things about Dave. He tries very hard. He writes quite a lot. He does seem to be willing to try to view even "anti-Catholics" (his word) as Christian brethren, consistent with Vatican 2's requirements. He uses big words, and often uses them correctly.

He has a certain rhetorical flair. And I could go on and on. He seems to be a kind father and a loving husband, from what I can see through his blog (I don't know him personally).

All these things are points in his favor, but they do not resuscitate his bankrupt claims about his theological opponents. They are not a substitute for the truth. And I don't think many of his supporters buy it any longer. I don't think his supporters are going: "Oh yeah, Dave is such an overwhelming apologist that all the folks on the other side are afraid to debate him." I suspect that they are treating this the same way they would treat a comment from the head coach of their local sports team talking about how the rest of the league/division/whatever is afraid of their team: as chest-thumping propaganda, and nothing more.

But correct me if I'm wrong - is that really the view in the Catholic world, that we are all "daunted" and "afraid" of Dave?

I apologize if my calling Dave to task on this matter somehow strengthens Rome's claims compared to those of Geneva. I'm not sure how it would. Whether Dave is a nice guy or jerk, Rome's claims are either true or they are not, and Geneva's claims are either true or they are not: and both cannot be true.

I devote a significant part of my own blog to trying to demonstrate that the claims of Rome are not true, and that it is those of Geneva that are the teachings of Christ, the prophets, and the apostles. I appreciate the fact that you read my blog, and I hope you won't let my dealing with these misrepresentations get in the way of the more important matters of Scriptural truth.


Reginald de Piperno said...

Hello Turretinfan,

do you really believe that any of the people that Dave challenged are "petrified" with fear of debating Dave?

I have no idea. I have not asked them, and I have not investigated to discover whether any of you have said how you feel about it. "Petrified" is probably rhetorical excess on Dave's part, I suppose. But that really wasn't my point, which (from the update you added to your post on the topic) you seem to have understood.

But correct me if I'm wrong - is that really the view in the Catholic world, that we are all "daunted" and "afraid" of Dave?

I barely speak for myself, so I can hardly pretend to represent Catholics generally.

What I find inexplicable (as I've already said in the post) is why - if Dave's arguments are so bad, or if Dave is such a dope, or if Dave is contemptible, or if Dave has been answered over and over and over ad nauseam - if these things are so, why on earth continue to waste your time on him?

My view (and I would not be surprised if it were shared by others, or even if it were a common opinion among online Catholics who are familiar with such things) is that in general Dave's arguments haven't been refuted by you folks at all. When or if I hear reports of Catholics who leave the Church and say that reading your blog played a role in their doing so, and who say that Dave didn't offer satisfactory counter-answers, then I will consider revising my opinion. In the meantime I know of at least one person whose journey in the opposite direction was aided by Dave's work (that would be: me).

Yes, I know that's anecdotal. But it's also where the rubber hits the road with respect to an apologist's work.

I apologize if my calling Dave to task on this matter somehow strengthens Rome's claims compared to those of Geneva. I'm not sure how it would.

Really? So if, instead of being courteous, the Mormons came to your door and berated you, you would be more likely to interact with what they have to say? Flies, honey, and vinegar, Turretinfan. :-)

(Hmmmm...I seem to have described myself as an insect...)

It's not a question of whether treating someone badly makes your argument stronger or weaker. It's a question of whether doing so makes your target audience more or less likely to listen to anything else you have to say. If your intended audience is your Reformed brethren...well, knock yourself out: obviously they're not going to be bothered by what you say about some Catholic. If, however, your intended audience when you critique the Catholic Church is Catholics...well, then you have a presentation problem when you treat Catholic apologists this way.



Mike Burgess said...

If Reginald doesn't mind my answering on my own behalf on his dime, I'd like to respond to you, TF.

I don't have any notion whatever what "the Catholic world" thinks. It seems to me that there are people who are understandably off-put by Mr. Armstrong, that there are those who do not want to expend the energy to do a long interaction, and there might be one or two who are afraid of not coming off very well (whether through their own fault or not).

Still, it makes one wonder why noone has taken the challenge. He is a favorite target of derision and drive-by attacks. I needn't point out the interminable number of such swipes.

When he challenged you, and you were considering it, why did you feel the need to frame the contest as you did? I'm not saying you fled, but if, as has been intimated, it were so easy to overcome him with the truth on your side, why not do it?

I don't know what bankrupt claims about his opponents you mean. I have often laboriously trudged through page after grueling page of these sorts of things in the past and can only come to the conclusion that his opponents or potential opponents inevitably fall short of the mark of substantial refutation.

In what way are you calling him to task? You haven't engaged him in any lengthy dialogue; you have simply assailed him for calling you out and then allegedly, either himself or through his followers, gloating about being too much to handle. Handle him, then. That would be "calling him out," as you put it. But I think you and Mr. Armstrong are more committed to the truth than to simply view it as a spitting contest. (One doesn't engage Francis Turretin for fun.)

Just my two cents, TF. God's blessings to you.

Turretinfan said...

Thanks for your comments Mike and Reginald. I guess all that's left to point out is that I have addressed Armstrong's positions on a number of occasions.

Some are more in-depth, and some are more cursory. (link)

As far as I know, Armstrong has provided any kind of substantive response in only one instance: that being the citation dialog.



Turretinfan said...

Mike asked: "When he challenged you, and you were considering it, why did you feel the need to frame the contest as you did?"

I don't think it is a small thing to label a church as non-Christian.

There are several major objections to Catholicism:

1. Denial of Sola Gratia
2. Denial of Sola Fide
3. Denial of Sola Scriptura
4. Excessive Ecumenism in V2

In order for a debate on the topic of how Catholicism is to be labeled to take place, it is important that both sides have some mutual understanding of the issues at stake. Otherwise it is not a debate, it's just banter - or worse - just arguments.


Reginald de Piperno said...

Hi Mike and Turretinfan,

I'd like any further discussion of Turretinfan's reasons for not debating Dave to go elsewhere, please. Even if it hadn't been done to death on other blogs already, I think that enough has been said here to suffice for The Supplement's coverage thereof. It wasn't my intent in the present blog post to dredge that up again. Turretinfan, if you think that I have cut short your ability to state your piece here, you may summarize your view on that topic one last time; otherwise, let's let it go. Frankly, I regret my entry into that fray and I'd rather not have it keep coming up here. Thank you, gentlemen.

Peace (really),


Mike Burgess said...

Forgive my presumption.

Reginald de Piperno said...


You do not need to apologize, and there is nothing to forgive :-)

You had no way of knowing how I would react to what you asked Turretinfan. You are blameless, just as he is. I simply wanted to curtail any further progress down that road. Nothing more.

I appreciate and value your participation here at The Supplement very much. Thanks!