Thursday, September 22, 2005

Does the Term "Anti-Catholic" Have a Proper Theological Application (as Opposed to Social)? (vs. Frank Turk)

By Dave Armstrong (9-22-05)

Anti-Catholic Reformed Baptist Frank Turk's words will be in green.

* * * * *

Hi Turk!

It’s an essay that, to this day, Armstrong overlooks. He does not address a single point made here,

I've addressed such points or similar ones times without number.

and relies on a single quote from [sociologist James Davison] Hunter, out of context, to simply whistle in the dark past this issue.

I do not rely on one quote from Hunter, but upon widespread use of the term anti-Catholic among thousands of Protestant scholars. I've documented 55 of these. If I am using it as simply a synonym for "bigot" or "hateful person who wants to bodily harm Catholics," then so are they.

This topic has a particular interest for me because I have myself been branded, at various times over the last 5 years, an “anti-catholic”.

You don't consider Catholicism a form of Christianity, so the title is quite apt.

I have been told that the term originates in a work entitled Culture Wars by James Davison Hunter,

By whom? Certainly not I; I would never assert such a ridiculously false thing. The term was in common usage for many decades before Hunter was born.

and that Hunter’s work outlines a particular brand of hatred on the part of Protestants against Catholics which is unsubstantiated and irrational.

Sure, but that has no bearing on how I am using the term (which has nothing to do with hatred, etc.).

Notice that Hunter defines it in an environment of mutual disregard: it is not a matter of the poor victimized Catholics being treated badly by the damned insolent or ignorant (or both) Protestants: it is a matter of a foundational dispute between the two. The dispute is inherently theological,

Exactly; therefore it is perfectly proper to use the term with sole reference to its theological components, not its wider range of meaning, which includes violence, hatred, bigotry, discrimination, disenfranchisement, etc. How can it not be so, if indeed theology is "inherent" to the word in question?

And in that, Hunter describes the tension to spill over into political and social conflict:

See, again; the very fact that you acknowledge an initial tension that can "spill over" into "political and social conflict" shows that there was already the theological tension; thus the term can be properly applied to such conflicts antecedent to their potential "spilling over" into something even more heinous: socially, as well as theologically and ecumenically destructive.

So the phenomenon Hunter is describing here is not a matter of one-sided insular Protestant bigotry: it is a matter of mutual disregard which, after a century of overt war, turned to the quiet warfare of personal relationships.

Absolutely. As I have stated many times, often the term is used to describe such phenomena, which also includes anti-Protestantism: which I have repeatedly condemned also. But it is not confined to social and political troubles.

It is in this context that Hunter uses the term “anti-Catholicism”.
The term was already in use. It didn't have to be defined by the context of his book because it was already known, for heaven's sake.

There is no doubt that Hunter either coins or simply applies the term “Anti-Catholicism” in his work,

You seriously consider the possibility that Hunter "coined" the term? Wow, this is getting surreal, even for you. You are that ignorant about the term, yet you want to lecture me that I supposedly don't know anything about it, and use it as a dishonest cover for calling people bigots?

but the question is: what is Hunter describing? Is he describing the inherently-Protestant theological view that Catholics are heretics,

In part yes, as I documented: ". . . it took expression primarily as a religious hostility - as a quarrel over religious doctrine, practice, and authority. . ." (p. 71; Hunter's italics)

or is he describing the political and social upheaval that resulted when the dispute over theology turned, in popular hands, into a reason to discriminate against a man for an honest education or the right to gain employment for a wage?

Yes, he does that, too. So what? I've always acknowledged that. Just because you are blinded to that fact, for some odd reason, doesn't mean I don't know about it.

Clearly, Hunter thinks the dispute over theology is the root cause –

Exactly; so again, that's why it is perfectly proper to use the term in a strictly theological way.

but it is a two-sided cause.

Often it is, but not necessarily, as I have stressed till I am blue in the face. For some reason, anti-Catholics hate to be called that. It's like liberal disdain of the word liberal, I guess. Yet they have no qualms about using the terms anti-Protestant, anti-evangelical, anti-Calvinist (I've documented many examples of James White and Eric Svendsen using those terms). That's fine, so let me ask you, Turk: why do you not condemn them for being (as you claim) equally arbitrary and irrational, and hate-mongering, for using the equivalent terms the other way around?

But of course, you have [recently] denied that Protestants ever use such language. You being unacquainted with the facts of a matter under dispute is, sadly, no unusual thing for you. You don't even know that your own heroes and champions are using these terms. I do, because I got sick and tired of these charges you reiterate and thus sought to show that those who make the charge are often guilty of gross hypocrisy. I am not, because I have used the term consistently in one fashion, not inconsistently, as White and Svendsen do: using their own "anti-" terminology but always accusing Catholics of something unsavoury when they merely do the same thing.

If he were writing a history of southern Europe, one has to wonder how he would have positioned the circumstances of Protestants given his brief description already cited.

Obviously not. His specialty is American religion, in any event.

He does call the editorial policies of the Chicago Tribune and the substance of the “great school wars” “anti-Catholicism”, but does he qualify all Protestant theology as anti-Catholic?

Of course not; anyone with half a brain cell knows that. Note the remote insinuation that somehow I am doing this: one of your more ludicrous and absolutely asinine charges about me. For heaven's sake, I used to be a Protestant who was not an anti-Catholic, so how in the world could I turn around and deny that such a thing exists? I would have to lie about my own past history.

You have to lob one of your outrageous lies about me when (as recently) you claimed that I classify all Protestants as "anti-Catholic." Yet you want so badly to dialogue with me. Why in the world would I want to do so with a person who has continually lied about my positions; even bald facts, and refuses to be corrected on any of them?

I'm only here now, hoping that some rational, fair-minded Christian soul who reads your blog will see this and correct and rebuke you in love, before you make a fool of yourself to an even greater extent than you already have. Lying about others is a sin. Even if I am all these things that you and Phil Johnson and Steve Hays and Svendsen and White and all my other [anti-Catholic] critics think of me, it's still a sin to lie and bear false witness, if it is proven that such has taken place. This is just one instance among many. But you refuse to deal with them. Instead it's all mockery and further misrepresentation.

Even as Hunter develops his thesis that Protestant biases inhabited the political system, he makes this clear concession:

"At a more profound level, however, biblical theism gave Protestants, Catholics, and Jews many of the common ideals of public life."

Amen! Am I to take this as some small degree of ecumenism on your part? Praise God.

It is the acceptance of the Bible as the unitive heritage of men who fear God that resolves their differences. That hardly sounds like a Catholic perspective: it sounds significantly Protestant.

It's Catholic, too, of course. We rejoice that we share the biblical heritage in common.

The doctrine of sola Scriptura – that Scripture alone has the authority to correct all other forms of authority, and that it alone in the normative standard – is not Catholic but Protestant, and it is this ideal of Scripture conforming the minds of men to which Hunter ascribes the basis and the ground of whatever resolution has occurred over time between the

No. He merely referred to "biblical theism" and included Jews in the equation also. Obviously, Jews don't believe in sola Scriptura, either; it is strictly a Protestant thing. We have this in common (the Bible). We don't have sola Scriptura in common.

Let’s keep that in mind the next time someone wants to throw out the term “anti-Catholic”.
Yeah, let's. And let's also keep all this in mind when White or Svendsen hypocritically use terms like anti-evangelical or anti-Reformed or anti-Calvinist. No one has addressed thast
phenomenon, to my knowledge, except yours truly.

I take a wholly-Protestant view of Catholic theology, but even I do no call for the disenfranchisement of Catholics.

Good for you! "Even" you don't do that, huh? What, have you been tempted to do so or something? Why even state such a silly thing? It's like the old thing about a man saying out of the blue, "I don't beat my wife."

I don’t think you should go out and beat Catholics, nor rob them of their possessions, nor that you should slander them for things they have never done.

What progress! Frank Turk is not in favor of beating and robbing Catholics. Great. He does not, however, have any compunctions about lying repeatedly about one of them; namely, Dave Armstrong. That's one of the Ten Commandments, too, last time I checked. Yet you repeatedly slander me by attributing to me notions and beliefs that I do not now hold; nor (in most instances) have I ever held them. And don't ask me to list them, as that is what I have already done in the paper you chose to deliberately ignore (for very good reason).

And in that, I find the term “anti-Catholic” both reductive and inflammatory – because the term means “bigot”,

In some usages it does, but not all.

and I am certain that one can hold Protestant views of Catholicism without being a bigot.

Me too, since I did it myself from 1977 to 1990, as a fervent evangelical Protestant!


Now, having made this general survey and expressed my own opinions on the matter for the umpteenth time, I thought it would be instructive to simply consult dictionaries and get a definition of the term anti-Catholicism. Like any other word, it ought to be fairly easy to find the correct definition, right? Granted, words can be used in different ways, and can have various meanings. But dictionaries will inform us of that range, too.

I have acknowledged (as I always have) that Frank's preferred definition of anti-Catholicism is a perfectly valid one. But he wants to act as if the way I have been using it (strictly in theological terms) is not. He wants to make his use exclusive. This isn't, however, an "either/or" scenario, but a "both/and" one, as is the case with most words.

So let's look it up in a few places and see what we can find. How about Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary? If one looks up "anti", one finds some very interesting things:

Main Entry: anti-
Variant(s): or ant- or anth-
Function: prefix

Etymology: anti- from Middle English, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French, from Latin, against, from Greek, from anti; ant- from Middle English, from Latin, against, from Greek, from anti; anth- from Latin, against, from Greek, from anti -- more at ANTE-

1 a : of the same kind but situated opposite, exerting energy in the opposite direction, or pursuing an opposite policy b : one that is opposite in kind to
2 a : opposing or hostile to in opinion, sympathy, or practice b : opposing in effect or activity
3 : serving to prevent, cure, or alleviate
4 : combating or defending against

[It then provides a host of examples. Here is the list up through the letter "c", bolding the theologically-related uses]:

anti-academic anti-acne anti-administration anti-aggression anti-aging anti-AIDS anti-alcohol anti-alcoholism anti-alien anti-allergenic anti-anemia anti-apartheid anti-aphrodisiac anti-aristocratic anti-arthritic anti-arthritis anti-assimilation anti-asthma anti-authoritarian anti-authoritarianism anti-authority anti-backlash anti-bias anti-billboard anti-Bolshevik anti-boss anti-bourgeois anti-boycott anti-British anti-bug anti-bureaucratic anti-burglar anti-burglary anti-caking anti-capitalism anti-capitalist anti-carcinogen anti-carcinogenic anti-caries anti-Catholic anti-Catholicism anti-cellulite anti-censorship anti-cholesterol anti-Christian anti-Christianity anti-church anti-cigarette anti-city anti-classical anti-cling anti-clotting anti-cold anti-collision anti-colonial anti-colonialism anti-colonialist anti-commercial anti-commercialism anti-communism anti-communist anti-conglomerate anti-conservation anti-conservationist anti-consumer anti-conventional anti-corporate anti-corrosion anti-corrosive anti-corruption anti-counterfeiting anti-crack anti-creative anti-crime anti-cruelty anti-cult anti-cultural


Now, has the dictionary defined these terms broadly as solely a political or social or "bigoted" thing? Of course not. We saw how it defined in several ways above. Arguably, the closest example is Anti-Semite. The dictionary notes:

2 a : opposing or hostile to in opinion, sympathy, or practice
The closest we can get to Frank's solely "political / social agitation, violence," etc. definition, is the word "practice" above, and even there it does not necessarily have to mean physical violence or discrimination and suchlike. Even if we grant that it does or could possibly mean that, the definition is not exclusive, so that one can also use the word in reference to "opposing" or "hostile" in "opinion" or "sympathy." That's really all that is sufficient to prove my use and definition. It's a slam dunk. The dictionary included Anti-Catholic along with all the other "anti" terms: precisely as I have been maintaining for years.

Unfortunately anti-Catholic is not listed on its own, but the above information is quite valuable enough.


The online Free Dictionary Thesaurus provides a simple definition:

Noun 1. anti-Catholicism - a religious orientation opposed to Catholicism

["related words"] religious orientation - an attitude toward
religion or religious practices
This same source provides a pasted Wikipedia article on "Anti-Catholicism"
which proves my point again and again. It mentions the political / social / violent conflict aspect, of course, but it also cites the purely religious or theological definition also:

Note the first, general definition:

Anti-Catholicism is religious or political opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, particularly of a kind employing alleged mischaracterizations,
stereotypes and negative prejudices. Anti-Catholicism typically applies only
to those instances in which Roman Catholics are persecuted or discriminated
against for their beliefs by other Christians. Roman Catholics may also be the
target of persecution of Christians generally.
This makes the predominant definition, the one that Frank thinks is the only one. But it doesn't rule out the other. It includes: "religious . . . opposition to the Roman Catholic Church, particularly of a kind employing alleged mischaracterizations, stereotypes . . ."

The mischaracterizations and stereotypes are precisely what I oppose in my work of apologetics. This is in the realm of ideas, not political or social pressure or compulsion. "Religious opposition" does not have to enter any realm other than theological dispute.

Thus the article clearly distinguishes (by dividing into separate sections), "Religious" vs. "political" anti-Catholicism. My use is precisely, exactly, that of what is described in the section "Religious Anti-Catholicism" (with the key phrase, "denying as they do that the Catholic Church is a Christian church"). I cite most of it:

Traditional anti-Catholicism (which originated during the Reformation is promoted by Protestant Fundamentalists such as Ian Paisley and Jack Chick, while the new secular anti-Catholicism is generally promoted by secular organisations.

According to a report by the Catholic League Catholic League, the Internet has many anti-Catholic websites. Traditional anti-Catholic works include Charles Chiniquy's 50 Years In The Church of Rome and The Priest,the Woman and the Confessional in which he accuses Catholicism of being pagan. Such sentiments are common among some Protestant fundamentalist Christians, denying as they do that the Catholic Church is a Christian church. Proponents often reference Scripture, such as the Book of Revelation Book of Revelation, chapters 17 and 18, which they claim depict the Pope as the Antichrist and the Catholic Church as being the "Whore of Babylon". Proponents of anti-Catholicism also claim that the Mass is an abomination in the eyes of Jesus Christ. Many anti-Catholics also claim that Catholics worship the Blessed Virgin Mary.

One high-profile example of anti-Catholicism is the series of tracts produced by noted anti-Catholic and comic book evangelist Jack Chick, in particular his Alberto series. . . . One of the most famous tracts is titled Are Roman Catholics Christians?, in which the reader is told that the Catholic Church's doctrines are against God and inspired by Satan. While these views are not widely held, several Roman Catholic organizations continue to battle anti-Catholic sentiment fed by, or explicitly formed by, such materials.

. . . Alexander Hislop's The Two Babylons claims that the Catholic Church originated from a Babylonian mystery religion and that its practices are pagan.
Later, there is a section, Actions frequently labeled anti-Catholic. Among the things listed (which include both social/political and religious aspects), are:
* Claiming that Roman Catholics are not Christians

*Referring to the Roman Catholic Church as a cult
This is, again, precisely how I have defined the term for apologetic and educational purposes: it is the incorrect assertion on incorrect, wildly mistaken grounds, that Catholicism is not Christian.

Wikipedia provides, I think an excellent overview of the many aspects of anti-Catholicism, though it is a bit sloppy in a few places. Interestingly, a link is also provided to "Anti-Protestantism". Let's check that out and see if it is parallel to "Anti-Catholicism," with its dual aspect.

This quite brief article seems to take a middle position. It doesn't specifically mention that anyone denies that Protestants are Christians; rather, it emphasizes "bias" and prejudicial attitudes, such as derisive references to the "Bible belt" [the U.S. South] or "Bible thumpers." It ends:

Anti-protestantism is partly a bias or ideology that attempts to either portray poorer Protestants as uneducated or provincial, or wealthier Protestants as cold, prudish, or having unmerited wealth or power.

So it doesn't really delve into a theological analysis of the phenomenon, nor does it mention persecution, violent conflict, etc. Just for the record, Catholics (as stressed in Vatican II) regard Protestants as Christians. Anyone who does not is fringe (either an extreme "traditionalist" or what's called a "Feeneyite").

Actual use, however, that I have observed, in Eric Svendsen and James White, suggests primarily the biased aspect (misrepresenting because of undue hostility, ignorance, etc.), with the insinuation that Reformed or whatever are inferior to other brands of Christianity. They don't seem to claim that others are denying that Calvinists or evangelicals should have political rights, etc.

Thus, they use their "anti" terms in precisely the way that I use mine, from their Protestant perspective (sticking to theology, not social ferment). That's fine with me. It is only their double standard whereby I am not allowed to use the term "anti-Catholic", which is the problem.

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