Tuesday, February 22, 2005

2nd Reply to Dave H. on Catholic "Epologists" and the Biblical Canon

For background, see: Reply to Dave H. on the Biblical Canon and the Alleged Irresponsibility of Internet "Catholic Apologists". Dave's words will be in blue:

Hi Dave H:

1) I am sorry if you feel that only professional apologists can be criticised.

When did I ever say that? In fact, I stated the exact opposite at one point. My point was, rather, that if you're going to criticize an entire class ("Internet Catholic apologists") you ought to go to the members of that class (at least part of the time) who are the most prepared to discuss the issue. It is the deliberate exclusion of those folks which I found odd (you stated -- I believe it was you -- that it was irrelevant to bring up well-known apologists). I happen to be the one who knows about this and is responding, so I merely referenced myself as an example of an "epologist" (something you seem to repeatedly not understand, in comments below).

I stand by what I wrote. The entire point was to address something that I and others have read many times over. I am not going to go searching for posts at forums or digging through blogs for something that was said two years ago or two weeks ago nor should I need to. As it is I mentioned Catholic Answers which is the largest Catholic forum on the internet and I have seen this issue many times there and I have never seen professional apologists correct it.

That's fine. I don't deny your report; I only thought that if the charge was made, examples should be given. Chris did give examples, and I have examined them and found them wanting. I think there are misunderstandings here as to what Catholics usually mean when they speak this sort of language. In a nutshell, it is a matter of epistemology in our emphasis, and "ontology" in yours (Scripture is what it is). We agree with the latter (I cited Vatican I and Vatican II to prove that), but it is not contradictory to point out the former.

You and Chris and Josh seem, however, to think that discussing the epistemology of knowing precisely what is Scripture and what isn't (by means of Church authority) somehow contradicts the inherent inspiration and revelational status of Scripture. It does not. It's a practical aid, to settle the matter, so there is no more dispute. So I believe a lot of this is needless clashing over apples and oranges. Catholics tend to overemphasize the Church in the canonization process and Protestants tend to minimize same and stress the self-authenticating nature of biblical books. I think the truth is somewhere in the middle, and that we CAN achieve significant common ground on this, if we could only more accurately understand each other, and the differing ecclesiologies, rules of faith, and epistemologies.

2) I am glad you are addressing these things. I stand corrected and appreciate your efforts.
Thank you; I appreciate it.

But you will forgive us who have not seen these addressed at places like CA. Not everyone is aware of your site or frequents it. If something is said somewhere and we see no Catholic response there is nothing illegitimate about saying there is a lack of “Catholic Answers” for errant catholics on certain forums and blog. Again, I am glad you challenge them but I have not seen you do so elsewhere - which is fine. You cannot be every where at once.

Possibly, there has been some laxity there. If so, I would be with you on this: that it should be corrected. On the other hand, this may involve (at least partially) matters of epistemology. Since Catholics would better understand where other Catholics are coming from on this, the professional apologists over there (Keating, Akin, etc.) may not have felt that it was necessary to correct anything. Once a Protestant makes a critique, then there are issues that have to be resolved because of the different worldview and different ways of interpreting the same kind of statement.

I never asked to believe what I say. But there was no bald assertion. Shari’s blog was an instance cited by Chris.
Again, I deny that she believes what you are attributing to her. I think context shows clearly what she believes. She made a sloppy statement. If others have spoken in this way and really meant it (in context and all) that's one thing, but she shouldn't be made the scapegoat for others. I think it is very unseemly.

And since we were blogging not writing official apologetic position papers we have every right to note or observations without citing every source. If you said Baptists often say ignorant things about the real presence I would not demand you cite sources. I would take your word for it since it rings true with most Christians experience who believe in the real presence. You set up a standard that you live by as a professional apologists. We are not bound by these standards unless we are being unreasonable. But i suspect you know the assertion is true.

I agree with most of this. I think it depends on the seriousness of the charge. You were starting to make this an ethical and honesty issue, by writing things like: "As long as Catholic and Orthodox apologists let what they know to be false slide . . . " That implies an outright wrong. I've never operated in that way, myself. I correct any error that I see, according to my understanding of what Catholicism and Christianity in general teaches. And I don't think other apologists like me are any different. It's what we do. We're sort of "doctrinal watchdogs." So it was a very serious charge because it hit upon something central to our vocation. This also implies that the more credentialed and professional apologists had this duty to correct. It makes no sense to say that some green "apologist" should "correct what they know to be false" or suchlike.

3) You complain of strong language but I find nothing in your post that makes you sound more charitable than me. I could quote several condescending words in your the same post I am responding to that goes being words like lazy. I did not attack anyone personally yet you seem to feel you were being attacked. I am sorry but I did not have you in mind at any point.

People always make this charge. It's meaningless unless individual examples are given in context. Usually when I use "strong language" it is in response to some charge I believe to be false and unwarranted, and I ALWAYS try to stick to ideas and opinions in my critiques, as opposed to engaging in ad hominem attacks.

4) Back to the first point. Why do you insist we go to a select few apologists to address things others have said?

I didn't say "select few." I said that if you insist on attacking the entire class, then at least let some of the more trained of that class reply (or prove that THEY are guilty of this shortcoming). 

If you said it then we should address you if we take issue with it. Since it was not you why should I address you if you were not involved?

I just explained it.

Are you going to come to me if you read something you disagree with on some Lutheran or Anglicans blog who I don’t even know?

Are you a published Lutheran apologist? If so, then if I am critiquing "Lutheran epologists" for something, and you show up (as I have in this debate), then I will challenge you, as a representative of the class. It's just common sense. You and Chris were the ones who insisted on making this a "class thing," not an individual critique thing. You insisted on making the negative statements about the class of Catholic apologists. As one of that number, I tire of this, because it is common on the Internet (apologist-bashing seems quite fashionable these days in many venues), and I find most of the charges (not all) to be unjust and oftentimes, outrageously so.

If I want to debate Catholic theology I will come to you or Jimmy Akin or Mark Shea or whoever.

But you don't understand that you have made a charge against my "group" (Catholic apologists) -- one that I think is mostly unfair. As one of that group, I respond. But I have also shown that as one of that group, I have done the exact opposite of what you and Chris have charged. I also suggested that I don't think any other published, professional apologists have made the mistake you object to. You can find lots of people doing apologetics (real or imagined) and find something to shoot down. Generally speaking, I think it is proper to seek out the best representatives of a viewpoint, not the least skilled.

But that was not what was take place here. Why do you insist it all must come back to you.

See the above. This is not an accurate description of what I have been trying to do.

5) I was using apologist more loosely than you. I never said professional apologist.

What you did was exclude the professionals from consideration. I maintain that they are the ones most relevant to your critique.

And anyone who contends to defend the faith is an apologist in some sense. If they do a poor job they should be corrected.

Yes; I have no problem with that.

Frankly, I was not addressing apologists in general so you read far more into what I wrote than what I actually wrote.

If you weren't, then the following language is pretty odd:

"If the internet were not full, and I mean full, of Catholic and Orthodox converts from other communions, who attribute their conversion to the sudden realization that the Church wrote the scriptures in the manner that Clueless Christian seems to think then their would not be a need to respond this most obvious error as CPA did."

6) You turned this entire discussion into an completely different issue.

I responded as I saw fit.

One about you and the fact that you are an apologist and therefore we must address you and not the ignorant masses.

I made the argument as to why you should include people like me. It's not about ME; it's about an illogical premise on your part. I just happen to be the one around.

If I have the time to read something of yours I disagree with I will be sure to take it up with you. Until then if I am not addressing something you wrote I am not obliged to check with you first before I comment on what someone else has said.

Of course not, But that's a red herring, as I never demanded this in the first place.

7) It should be clear from what I wrote that I was not addressing Shari’s words specifically. I was discussing the larger issue of people who do say or imply that the church gave us the Bible in 400AD. I mean isn’t it pretty clear that I was not talking about any one person but a misconception by some converts? How many times do I have to say that?

That has no effect on my critique. I assumed you were talking about the class. That's why I have been answering!

8) You may have addressed Chris point by point. But in this thread and in the post it is in response to, many of the things Chris said in his two entries were ignored or dismissed. They were not specifically engaged. I am glad that you did, but again it was not you who I was referring to.

Silly comments were made by you at Here I Stand about supposed fear of "facts" and of replying to Chris and the ignoring of Chris's argument as "amazing." So I have replied at length, only to hear this red herring of "it's not about you, anyway." Well, it IS (indirectly), because I am in the class of "Catholic epologists"! LOL I don't think this is rocket science.

9) This is not me picking on Catholics. You will be hard pressed to find anything written by me that is particularly harsh on Catholics. I have my criticisms of course. But I have much bigger problems will Baptists and pop-Evangelicalism than with orthodox Catholicism. In fact go back over to Here We Stand and see who I am the toughest on. I think you will find my harshest criticisms are aimed at Lutherans. My mom is a lovely Catholic and I think she is a fine Christian.

Glad to hear it. Others over there are not quite so irenic, but the more the merrier.

10) Just being pre-emptive here - yes I believe the Roman Catholic and the other 21 Catholic Churches are Christian churches. Until you deny the Creeds I am in no position to deny that other communions are Christian.

Excellent. I'm delighted to hear this. God bless you.

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