Sunday, January 15, 2006

Eavesdropping At Catholic Answers: The Debates of James White


I admit it: I skim through the Catholic Answers discussion boards. Every time I get involved in a discussion, I usually regret it. Not because I’m somehow “refuted”- rather, I usually end up wasting a large amount of time dialoging with people who have an inability to comprehend arguments and facts (I will post some examples of this in the near future). Since I spend a lot of time writing seriously, I thought this thread from Catholic Answers was worth a chuckle: Tim Staples / James White Debate.

Read for yourself how “Dr. White wrongfully used scripture and some argumentative techniques against Staples, so it was an unfair fight” or “James White is the Champion at Straw Man arguments” or “Sungenis destroys White (5 times). Hmmm.... no wonder White refuses to debate him any more” or “Pacwa took white behind the woodshed and had white grasping for straws”…” "Eventually it will be "White? who is White" He's no white, he's always wong!!”

Now, I’ve been to a few of the debates of James White vs. “insert Catholic Apologist name here.” So this is what makes these comments funny to me. I’ve seen more than one Catholic apologist squirm in his chair under cross-examination from James White. I've watched these exchanges in person- and i've heard the hush in the room when their hero is falling.

One of the funniest things I saw was the group of little old Catholic ladies yelling at White while debating Mitch Pacwa on the invalidity of the priesthood. Believe me, Pacwa needed all the help he could get. Probably the saddest thing I saw was Catholic apologist Bill Rutland attempt to defend the ability of non-Christians to enter heaven. After that debate, it isn't surprising to me the yearly debate series this was part of seems to be over. Dr. White has documented time and again how the Catholic apologists won't debate him. My guess is there won't be debates because Catholic Apologists realize how unhelpful these debates are to the validity of their "work". It must be hard to be taken seriously when recordings exist of them doing so poorly defending the Roman Catholic Church.

Now, almost every time someone on Catholic Answers starts a thread mentioning James White, there’s a pretty good chance the thread is going to disappear. The content of the discussion usually turns into slander and rhetoric. In fact, to prove my point, just go on to this thread and say: “James White is a Godly man with a heart for the truth.” Watch the responses you get, and watch how quickly the thread dissapears.


Anonymous said...

I have personally heard almost every one of Dr. Whites debates with RC Apologists (only missed the Pacwa priesthood debate)through the Straitgate website, and I must say, I agree with you %100. Without being present at these debates, you can sense the desparation on the RC defensive side. After listening to all these debates I came away thinking how poorly RCism was presented and defended by their better, if not best, apologists. James consistantly presents his side of the debate with a great understanding of the issues and with devestating rebuttals under cross examination. I wonder why I think he always walks away with a "win" during these debates (obviously these debates aren't about wins/losses). Maybe he's defending the position that is actually more factual, accurate, and Biblically compatible to begin with? Better arguements don't win debates, the truth behind them always does.

FM483 said...

Having been raised in a loving Roman Catholic family, it pains me to see the bondage RCs are in. Martin Luther referred to this bondage as the "Babylonian Captivity of the Church". Most RCs are terrified at leaving their ancestral home, with the papacy, saints, and magesterium. One of my RC sisters was terribly threatened when I informed her that I was of the catholic faith, just not of the Roman variety. I informed her that the 16th century Reformers all considered themselves part of the holy, catholic, and apostolic Church established by Jesus Christ. They considered themselves too catholic to continue to condone the abuses that the Roman church had foisted upon the laity.

James Swan said...

Anonymous- Excellent synopsis.

Ok, I may come across sometimes as a little less than loving toward Roman Catholics. In the last few James White debates I attended, I met up with a Roman Catholic opponent I met on the CARM boards. We had dinner previous to the debate, and then discussed it afterwards. Nice guy- bad theology.

The folks who post over at Catholic Answers are more than simply "threatened"- they actively produce false information and slander against Protestants. Not all of them, obviously- Every so often I run across someone sane. Most telling is the hatred for Luther I encounter. I don't mind if RC's don't like Luther, but they should at least get their facts straight. I challenge you to spend a week over there. Get involved in a Luther thread, and let them know you're a Lutheran. Try this one, it just started:

Or if you have about a month to catch up, read this one:

FM483 said...

James - Don't think for one minute that I do not fully appreciate the divisiveness of Roman Catholicism. My personal experience coming out of Roman Catholicism was similar to a person being deprogrammed from a weird cult. Tremendous anger was one of the results. I was terribly angry at having allowed myself to be deceived with half-truths and outright falsehoods for so many years. I understand that most people are RC because they were born into a RC home. The same for most Mormons. Only by reading and studying the Word of God was the Holy Spirit able to show me that the entire Scriptures were about Jesus Christ - not the institution of the papacy or the RCC. I believe that RCs are threatened by intellectuals such as James White. Often the insecurity in people masquerades as bull-headedness and stubbornness of opinion and unwillingness to engage in genuine debate. Truth is usually not the goal of debates on forums such as you suggest I look into. I have been on RC forums in the past and simply refuse to cast pearls of the sweet Gospel of Jesus Christ so that swine can trample it underfoot. I have learned to limit my labors to forums, such as this one, which have integrity and genuinely seek truth. I will say, however, that efforts you have expended on RC forums may actually have produced positive results in the minds of many readers. Unfortunately, there is usually no way of measuring the positive results of your efforts. You are to be applauded for your enthusiasm for the Word and the courage exemplified. May God the Holy Spirit continue to strengthen and defend the truth of His Word through defenders of the faith, such as yourself and Dr. White.

FM483 said...

James - I am looking into the RC forum you suggested. Although I am not an expert on the life and theology of Martin Luther, I will attempt to contribute. Reading your posts shows me how well versed you are on the subject! FYI - with respect to the Lutheran forum which has been discontinued - I retrieved many of your comments on Luther as they were quite instructive. Have you ever read Martin Chemnitz' "Examination of the Council of Trent"? I have the first volume - this clear Reformational presentation was absolutely shattering to the RC apologists of the late 16th century. The RCC believed that with Luther's death, the wayward Germans could easily be recaptured into the "Babylonian Captivity" of the RCC! How wrong they were!

James Swan said...


I also saved many of the posts from the Lutheran forum, and i'm still in contact with Commonman (John)- I really liked the format of those forums- to bad they didn't take off.

I'd say if i get into discussions with RC's maybe 1 out 15 of them is willing to listen. On the other hand, I have learned much about my own beliefs by contrasting them with the Roman church. So no time is wasted- when I see things are getting silly I leave.

I don't have Chemnitz yet, but a library near my house has it, so i've used it during some research. It is a huge book! You know, if I could purchase an electronic version that would be best.

I wish Concordia would make more Lutheran type of works available in electronic form (by the way here is one the best Lutheran links for research-

I pray for many of the people I get into discussions with- The goal is Jesus Christ. But you are right, sometimes one must simply say what they need to, and leave it at that.


FM483 said...

James - Lutherans believe that faith comes from hearing the Word of God(Romans 10:17)and through the Sacraments(the Word connected to physical elements). I am sure you will agree with the power of God's Word to create saving faith in a man out of absolutely nothing except a DEAD and evil heart? Hence, the people who profit the most out of informative posts are those already adopted and in the kingdom of God. I learned that no amount of argumentation, however persuasive, can create faith in a stubborn and dead person. Only the Word of God - the simple sweet message of Jesus Christ - His perfect life, suffering, death, and resurrection(1Cor 15:1-10) does this all by itself. To me apologetics is not the primary method of evangelism, but it only removes obstacles to a stronger faith in those who have already received Christ through the Gospel. Your great head knowledge of Martin Luther is wasted on unbelievers, who refuse to receive the truth of Christ and His emisaries. Only those already In Christ desire greater head knowledge of history and the facts of the Gospel. Others are held captive by the philosophies of men.

James Swan said...

Your comments cut to the heart fm483-

Indeed, One of the reasons I decided to blog was coming to the realization that discussion boards were futile. Particulalry in that thread you joined in on at Catholic Answers (btw, I appreciated your comments), I came to the realization that my time was being seriously wasted.

Another reason I chose to blog, was that I needed an outlet to write. Unless I write something down, I never remember it. So, with all the research I would do during a discussion board interaction, I would quickly loose track of it, as it slipped into the dark holes of cyber-space. Then, I would go look for it, and couldn't find it!

My next blog is going to be about my Luther interest.

In terms of faith in Christ- It becomes more and more clear to me how foolish the gospel is. I don't expect anyone to believe it. But to those of us who do- it is the sweetest song known.

Pastor Patrick Hines said...

I've heard all of White's RC debates. Wouldn't you think that Jesus Christ's infallible church and her apologists would just absolutely destroy all comers? And yet the results speak for themselves.