Thursday, March 23, 2006

"Be Nice To Catholic Apologists" Thursday #3

Obviously, you are trying to make me look like some kind of clown and buffoon on your blog, with your ridiculous "be nice to Catholic apologists" posts and so forth.”

I can’t believe its already “Be Nice To Catholic Apologists” Thursday. Tempus Fugit, indeed. Well this past week a Roman Catholic poster over on CARM told me my latest material on John Calvin and pagan philosophy don’t deserve more than “two sentence” responses, but I guess I asked for it. Then I got a CARM private message from a Roman Catholic telling me I’ve been “mean and nasty” and that I, along with Frank Turk, have a “short fuse”. I prefer the term “polemical” over “mean and nasty” and “short fuse.”

Over the years I probably have gotten a little more intolerant of silly thoughtless responses to particular points I make. I don’t have the same level of tolerance for jokers who critique what I’ve written that I used to have. It probably comes from reading the Reformers, or maybe even from reading Frank Turk’s blog-…any chance to blame Turk, you know.

I’m trying to remember exactly where I left off last week “being nice” to Roman Catholic apologists. I recall posting all his written responses directed toward me, so that way people can judge for themselves whether or not I distort his writings. That was the whole point of “Be Nice to Catholic Apologist” Thursday, nothing more, nothing less. If I’ve distorted Catholic apologetic writings, the interested reader can go through responses to me.

One guy has been busy in the “Beggars all” blogbacks. He provided a response to last week’s edition of Be Nice To Catholic Apologists” Thursday. Seems as if my generous posting of his links isn’t “nice” enough- and he made sure to mockingly let me know exactly how he felt:

And now you actually (GASP!) linked to my papers????!!!!!! - something no anti-Catholic would do? How astonishing! How praiseworthy!!!! After sitting by and watching Eric Svendsen mock me in virtually every introduction to a paper of yours hosted on his site, now you have reached the sublimely generous heights of linking to my papers so people can read both sides! LOL

Well, again my intention in posting his links here would be to give anyone an opportunity to read the responses to me. Had I wished to knowingly “distort” his writings, I would be a fool to want people to read his responses to me. But, I encourage people to read the links, and then get back to me. To date, no one has ever brought up any of points to me from these papers. Sometimes a Roman Catholic will post the links to try and discredit me while I’m dialoging with someone- but when I try to find out which points in these papers they think discredit me, the conversation goes silent.

One Catholic seemed to sense a conspiracy on my part to get him to break his resolution to not engage anti-Catholics anymore. He had an “open forum” on his blog a little while back and I posted a question (according to him, “out of the blue”).

Hi-"Can the Reformation primarily be thought of a part of the Medieval period, the Enlightenment, something transitory, something-unto-its-own, none of the above, or all of the above? There are no hidden motives here- I have my own opinions- much better minds than mine have written entire books on this question. I think though, looking deeply at this question will enhance your writings on the Reformation. In your analysis, please include counter-responses to your position that you have evaluated.

He took this as a malicious attempt on my part to get him to break his resolution, and also seems to think asking him a question indicates I’m obsessed with him:

Note how I gave a concise, fairly "meaty" answer so as to not be rude, yet I refused to go into it in the depth you wanted, because of my resolution. But the point is: why ask such an elaborate question, knowing that to answer it as you liked, I would have to violate my resolution? The obvious answer would seem to be that you want me to violate it and to get into more debates with me. Hence, my reference to your behavior as "obsessive."

The question was posted to one of his "open forum" blog posts (or whatever he call it)- so this hardly qualifies as "out of the blue"- it was a question of historical nature. I thought he was able to answer questions like this, even with his "resolution". I didn’t even plan on responding to the answer he gave which was:

The fourth, with strong remnants of the medieval period, since, after all, Protestants had to retain much of Catholic Tradition in order to remain Christian. Of course such a broad question (like all historical questions, esp. concerning history of doctrine or ideas) is very complex once closely examined. But that's my short answer. Historically, the so-called "Reformation" was transitory in a sense, also, because its main components have not lasted. The vast majority of Protestants reject Calvinism; most of the world's Lutherans have long since become liberalized; there are very few "radical Reformation" Anabaptists, etc. Protestantism is still here, of course, but it is a radically mixed bag and hardly even a single movement anymore. "I won't go into this beyond that with you because that would go against my resolution to not dialogue with anti-Catholics anymore. You'll likely just take whatever I write here and distort it somehow, in an effort to present me in an unfavorable light. I've come to expect this, and it is sad, for so sharp of a person (and nice) as you are. No one need wonder how I view the "Reformation". I've written tons about it, Whoever wants to know my opinions can go read my papers and books."

It wasn't a question to provoke him to break his self-imposed resolution. I had been listening to a lecture on a particular aspect of the Reformation. Since he seems to have an interest in Reformation things, I thought this would be a good question for him to either write about, or factor into his Reformation synopsis- or maybe he could've even directed me to a Catholic source from which his opinion on the question was formed. His answer sufficed- in that I never planned on writing about the issue with him in mind anyway, and secondly it appeared from his answer he wasn't that familiar with the question. If he would rather only be asked questions by his supporters, I won't ask anything again. Even in the question I asked, I even mentioned I had no hidden agenda: “There are no hidden motives here- I have my own opinions- much better minds than mine have written entire books on this question."

He went on to say,

In any event, since you give three cheers for my decision to stop "debating" anti-Catholics and place yourself in that category, then why (again) do you keep hoping that I will debate you? You're happy that I stopped, yet you want to do the opposite of that which makes you happy? That makes a lot of sense, James.”

Let me go on record, I don’t have any wish to “debate” this guy. Why then would I embark on such an endeavor? There is no conspiracy here, as I’ve pointed out already, even with the blog entries I’ve written here, they for the most part come as the result of either his making reference to me, or either a comment he made here. Probably the amount of times I've responded to his blog over the years is a number between 20 and 30. This blog entry is the result of his making comments. It is not a hidden agenda to get him to either break his resolution, nor is this an obsession on my part. I thought he was actually going to give it a rest since at one point, he commented,

So, go do your work and I'll do mine. If you ever cease being an anti-Catholic, come look me up and perhaps we can dialogue again.”

But, after a short response from me, he went on to bulldoze me with written material in the same blogback (his comments were soaked with mockery and sarcasm, which is ok). I’ve gone a record more than once stating my awe at his ability to generate material quickly. Some of the above quibbling was worked out. His “open forums” are not a specific area in which he will engage questions (my mistake right there, though he does appear to answer questions in his “open forum”, go figure).

Somehow or another, he interpreted my statement, “If you would rather only be asked questions by your supporters, I won't ask anything again.” To mean, “Secondly, your usual polemical, asinine charge, this time, that I am scared of questions from non-followers, is immediately ridiculous, in light of my 365 posted dialogues with folks of all different stripes.” Does anybody besides me see two totally different statements here? Can anyone show me where I said he was “scared of questions”? Here we find a glaring example of his methodology- the way he reinterprets statements to heighten emotional and polemical value.

He maintains my question was an invitation to a debate:“…as I showed, you were asking for a long, elaborate answer. That suggests a debate or an in-depth discussion. Therefore, I was not wrong to suspect that you were trying to goad me into debate…” I guess this part gave him that idea: “I think though, looking deeply at this question will enhance your writings on the Reformation. In your analysis, please include counter-responses to your position that you have evaluated.” OK, I’m sorry I asked you for a long answer. Given your ability to write, and given the amount of writing you’ve done on the Reformation, I simply expected that you had already tackled this question somewhere on your vast website and blog. The part I didn’t think you knew anything about was counter-responses to your position.

He then noted:

I accept your report of your intention, and thank you for it. However, if you hadn't been repeatedly writing on this droning theme of yours that I am an incompetent researcher who needs to be lectured by you, who can't be trusted when I cite anyone, and who deserves to be joked about and belittled (as evidenced by the unfair, cynical treatments I have objected to in the past on this blog) then I wouldn't be nearly so suspicious in the first place, would I? One develops suspicions of those sorts because of past experience. You are an anti-Catholic, after all. Why should I expect you to act any differently than any others I have encountered. It is the false belief which is the largest cause for the condescending behavior towards Catholics exhibited by virtually all anti-Catholics I have ever encountered. You are among the nicest (like Jason Engwer) and cautious in terminology, yet the insinuations you put out are still just as offensive and obnoxious.”

We all react differently to different things, I guess. I will not cease provoking Romanists to ad fontes research. These guys can say whatever they want about me “droning” or “lecturing”, or that I make “droning, obnoxious, condescending charges” (again, these words are glaring examples of Romanist methodology). They can keep thinking that I’m personally attacking them by this appeal. I don’t care. Fact is- I’m trying to hold myself to the same standard as I hold him. It isn’t always easy, and I’ve not met the standard myself at times (note my recent blog entry on Erasmus and 1 John 5:7). In his case, you can’t take a sentence from Calvin and then a sentence from Melanchthon and think you’ve made a historical point about their conversation. You can’t ignore the context of the Luther document you’re quoting from that says the opposite of the point you’re making- and so on.

Of course, my blogs directed toward him have a hint of sarcasm and attempted humor. Well, that’s me. It’s my curse. He should hardly be bothered by it- in an early satirical piece he referred to me as “TertiumSquid”. He also has a satirical fictional dialog that he wrote of a conversation between myself and Martin Luther. Are my feelings hurt? No, not really. Do I like his satirical writing? No not really. Will I make a make a big deal about it, as if I’m some ethical master and he’s a vicious Roman Catholic? No. His very first writing against me was filled with sarcasm and mockery. At the time, it bothered me because it was so uncalled for. Now I really don’t care. Even his latest blogback comments here are filled with sarcasm and mockery. Well, big deal then. Don’t be pointing the finger at me. It should be no mystery that I don’t take Catholic apologetics all that seriously. My writing will reflect that.

Then he went into full swing in his polemical comments. Both guns were blasting away at me, Eric Svendsen, Free Grace, James White, David King, Frank Turk, Hays, Engwer, BJ Bear, etc. He even blamed Will Durant once again for the time he used a citation of Luther. (ad fontes!). He finally commented,

If you had ceased these silly attacks against my basic competence as an apologist and researcher, who knows, I may have decided to make an exception in your case, to my resolution about not debating anti-Catholics any longer, as we have had some good exchanges (in between all your gratuitous insults). But your recent behavior rules that out. Go ahead and dispute everything I've written, if you like, and blame it all on me. It's par for the course. There is some small chance you will actually receive what I am saying as a genuine, justified complaint. If not, at least I tried. One at least makes an attempt to make things right. But I know well that people are often reluctant or unwilling to see the "other side."

I’m not looking to be an “exception” to your world. You came over here- remember? I’m not looking for the alleged ‘good ‘ol days”. You’re welcome to stop by here and continue to defend yourself and your writings. Fine by me. You can even rant and rave all you want- I will continue to respond. But remember, you’re bringing this on yourself.

I do receive what you say as “genuine”. I know you mean what you say, and believe what you say. But remember, I don’t believe Rome teaches the gospel. Those who defend her will not gain an ecumenical friend here. I’m sure you’re a nice guy- a good husband, a caring patriot, a devoted parent. But I do not believe in Catholic apologetics. Further, if you say things about me, I have the time currently to respond to you.