Saturday, September 24, 2005

Does the Term "Anti-Catholic" Have a Proper Theological / Religious Application? Counter-Reply to Frank Turk

See Part I of the discussion. Frank's words will be in green. My past words (from my Part I paper) will be in purple; older words than that will be in blue. Frank's past words will be in red. See his reply to my last post, entitled The Big Blow.


I have raised the Cat-5 flag for this post because, well, you better board up the windows and evacuate before you start reading. It’s a long, hard blow, and the foolhardy ones who stay behind do so at their own peril.

I certainly agree, but on completely different grounds. I would use the description "extreme tedium" myself, or "obscurantism to the nth degree." I offer my deepest sympathies to those who have the patience to wade through the following encounter.

I have also considered opening a blog and making Armstrong a "Team Member" to reduce the amount of confusion and link-jumping you poor readers have to endure, but designing a new TMP for a blog in order to interact with Armstrong is like buying a skybox in the Superdome for the 2005 season. You fill in the punchline.

No thanks; I respectfully decline, for reasons which will also be abundantly obvious as we proceed. This last "debate" is your shot, and then we will go our separate ways again. I wish you well. Make the best of it.

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.

There are 5 examples on your last salvo, Armstrong, and it’s very strange that these are the 5 you would pick – because none of them actually say what you say below. Shall we review them?

Sure, be my guest.

Gosh, if only the original sources were cited!

Gosh, if only you knew how to follow a link when it is offered to you. I connected a link to the above words, "documented 55 of these." That link goes to my oft-referred-to paper (one that is always ignored by anti-Catholics): "Use of the Term Anti-Catholic in Protestant and Secular Scholarly Works of History and Sociology." All the references are in there (just use "Ctrl-F" on your keyboard to quickly locate them). Furthermore, the previous paper in this series provided the same link also, in the immediate context. Here is what I wrote (linked words are linked again here):

I provided further such examples in my paper, "Use of the Term Anti-Catholic in Protestant and Secular Scholarly Works of History and Sociology."

. . . I gave examples . . . [then the ones you cite are given]

Now, logically-speaking, it is understood that if one:

1. "Provided further examples" of so-and so . . .
2. Listed the paper in which the examples occurred (note the clause, "in my paper . . .") . . .
3. Made another lengthy citation from the same paper . . .
4. Stated "I gave examples" (referring to the same paper), followed by examples in quotes . . .

. . . then it is abundantly clear that the citations given were included in the paper referenced and linked to. If this weren't the Internet, where one can have instant access to sources by one mouse click, then of course I would have provided full documentation (and if I hadn't, you would have a perfectly valid point). But there is no need to with linking technology. If you want to see the sources, go look them up. Why, then, are we arguing miserably about something fairly obvious?

But yes, that would be a good idea:

Mark Noll (evangelical historian): "Protestant anti-Romanism was a staple of the American theological world . . ."

I would suggest to you that "anti-Romanism" is a different word than "anti-Catholic". Saying they are synonyms is on-par with saying "anti-welfare" is a synonym with "racist".

This doesn't follow at all, and the following logical analysis explains why:

1. Romanism as a synonym of Catholic is like anti-welfare as a synonym of racist (so you say my logic amounts to, as a reductio ad absurdum).
2. To be against welfare is to somehow be against black people.
3. But most people on welfare are not black.
4. And it is quite possible to be against welfare and not against black people; to believe that there are other ways to help the poor (of whatever race) besides welfare, etc.
5. Therefore the comparison is ridiculous and a non sequitur.
6. You say that my making Romanism and Catholicism synonyms is as ridiculous as that comparison.
7. But is it really that illogical and ridiculous? No, of course not, on several grounds:

A. First of all, Noll himself uses them synonymously in the context of the passage cited (I have added more context than my original citation in the above-mentioned paper contained):

Protestant anti-Romanism was a staple of the American theological world. It
was fueled especially by the background of Catholic-Protestant strife in the
English Reformation. That antagonism was enshrined for English-speaking readers
everywhere in the pages of John Foxe's Book of Martyrs, which added Catholic
persecution of Protestants to the long line of sufferings endured by true
servants of Christ . . . [a lecture with a long title is cited, including "Romish Church . . . the Church of Rome is that mystical Babylon . . ."] . . . anti-Catholic literature was a well-entrenched theological genre. Ray Allen Billington's study [The Protestant Crusade, 1800-1860, A Study of the Origins of American Nativism, 1952] of the six antebellum decades included a bibiography of nearly forty pages devoted exclusively to anti-Catholic periodicals, books, and pamphlets.

("The History of an Encounter: Roman Catholics and Protestant Evangelicals," in Charles Colson and Richard John Neuhaus, editors: Evangelicals and Catholics: Toward a Common Mission, Dallas: Word Publishing, 1995, 87)

Noll does this, because this is how anti-Catholics themselves generally use the two terms. Note also that, while stating that anti-Catholicism in 19th-century America was almost always political, too, it didn't necessarily have to be; there was a theological component prior to any political action:

. . . conservative Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge, brought down great wrath upon his head for defending the validity of Catholic baptism, even though that defense fully maintained Protestant arguments about the deviance of Rome.

(p. 88)

. . . evangelical anti-Catholicism was given new life by the rising current of Catholic immigration into the United States. Protestant writing against Catholicism retained the historical theological animus, but it was almost always a political expression as well.

(p. 90)

"Almost always" political, but that leaves a window for a purely theological anti-Catholicism, based on what Noll describes as "historical theological animus." Therefore, he strongly proves my point that such a thing can and does exists apart from political action (thus can be called anti-Catholicism without necessary political implication). Those things often accompany the purely theological anti-Catholicism, but they are not intrinsic to same. That has been my argument for many years now.

B. Synonymous use of Romanism and Catholicism is clearly common in anti-Catholic circles, both historically and presently. To document this would be an exercise in self-evident inanity. But I will nevertheless provide a few examples below.

C. As a current-day example, see., e.g., James White, perhaps the most influential anti-Catholic Protestant apologist today. I documented his use of certain terms in my paper, The Strange Saga of James White's On-Again, Off-Again Use of the Pejorative Terms "Romanism" and "Romanist". The question here is: does he use these terms interchangeably with "Roman Catholic (his usual term) or Catholic? Of course he does (as I noted in the above paper):

He used the terms Romanism or Romanist(s) incessantly in his book The Fatal Flaw (Southbridge, MA: Crowne Publications, 1990) , almost as his description of choice for Catholicism. I found 29 instances of it (and I'm sure some slipped me by): on pp. xi, xiii, 4, 10, 13, 17, 21, 22, 23, 26, 29, 41, 45, 47, 69, 71, 86, 120, 125, 132, 133, 154, 156, 157, 159, 181, 191 (2), and 193. Roman or Roman Catholic(ism) also appear quite frequently.

White dropped his guard momentarily and fell into the abominable use of the word Catholic (by itself) at least seven times: pp. 18, 42, 70, 71, 75, 211, and 215, and even (egads!) Catholicism at least once (p. 70).

On page 71 of the same work he uses Catholic and Romanism as synonyms in the space of three sentences (after having also used Catholic in the preceding paragraph (his own italics and bolding; red coloring mine):

. . . we will demonstrate the fatal flaw of Romanism: here a way of propitiation, of satisfaction for sins, is presnted which is other than the final and completed work of Christ on Calvary. But there is another way in which this flaw can be demonstrated. it is to be found in the Catholic doctrine on indulgences and purgatory.
Therefore, anti-Catholic Protestant James White's reasoning is as silly as mine supposedly is (since he used synonyms in the same way that my agreeable ecumenical Protestant source did); it's as silly as saying (what was it?) that anti-welfare is a synonym of racist.

D. Furthermore, your anti-Catholic friend Steve Hays does exactly the same, too:

i) In his paper, Schism or Romanism?, he uses that term in the title, and then proceeds to use Catholic for his synonym, five times in the paper.

ii) In his paper, The civil wars of Popery (and there is yet another synonym! - he also uses Papist in the same paper, so now we're up to four terms), he does this (undeniably) in one sentence (emphasis mine):

Let's briefly note a few of these "worse than absurd" disagreements between fellow Romanists currently taking place on the Internet (obviously nothing has changed in some 1700 years: Catholics fought each other then and they continue to do so, and split and form new factions).
iii) In The inerrancy of Scripture, Hays provides another veritable potpourri (pun half-intended) of synonyms (coloring added):

i) Let us keep in mind that the same question can be posed of Roman Catholicism. If a Catholic authorizes the Bible by appeal to the church, that only relocates the question, for the question then will be, “Why believe the Church?” “Why believe that your church is the true church?”

ii) This, in turn, becomes a question of what historical evidence will probilify the claims of Romanism or Orthodoxy or whatever.

iii) Since, moreover, Catholicism appeals to, and applies to itself, descriptions of the true church in Scripture, it is, to that degree, contingent on the prior veracity of Scripture, and not the other way round.

The Roman Church can only be the true church if it is true to the definition of the true church in Scripture, which presupposes the truth, not of Romanism, but of Scripture.

So Romanism must employ the Protestant rule of faith as a ladder to get reach [sic] Romanism in the first place.

So here we have five different terms used (including the two that Noll used as synonyms): four for the same entity and one for a person who believes in the doctrine of same:

Romanism (4)
Roman Catholicism (1)
Roman Church (1)
Catholicism (1)
Catholic (1)

8. Ergo: your case collapses as factually untrue and logically fallacious; furthermore, if you wish to continue using the charge against me in this regard, then it also must (accepting logical consistency) be applied in equal measure to your anti-Catholic friends James White and Steve Hays. But if you concede and acknowledge their usage, then your "case" against my citation of Noll in this regard collapses, and hence, my use of him was exactly right, and a notch in my favor in this "debate."

David O. Moberg (evangelical sociologist): "the tensions have a continuing social, psychological, and ideological basis which must not be overlooked."

The question is not whether the "tensions" (and we can only assume that Moberg is here talking about the political oppression that Hunter is talking about; context of the statement would be helpful) have as one source the ideological differences between Catholic and Protestant: the question is whether the theology of Protestantism is itself rightly called "anti-Catholic".

Of course not, as I have noted dozens of times (somehow you miss this or simply don't want to see it), and as the very structure of my website (how I categorize things) presupposes. Protestantism is split between anti-Catholic and ecumenical factions (the second being much larger). Protestants argue amongst themselves about whether Luther and Calvin regarded the Catholic Church as a Christian Church or not. The anti-Catholics deny that they did. Their opponents produce texts to support their contention that they did do so (e.g., Hodge's argument that Calvin regarded Catholic baptism as valid baptism; Luther also agrees with that). I think Luther and Calvin were self-contradictory on this score (hence the confusion of interpretation), but (for my part), while I take note of the more positive statements (and rejoice in them), I classify them as anti-Catholic (if I must make a choice).

This is not the "question" at all because we completely agree here: Protestant theology and anti-Catholic [Protestant] theology are not synonyms; rather the second is a smaller subset of the first. Nor are anti-Catholic Protestant apologist and Protestant apologist synonyms. The first is a small subset of the second. Not all Protestant apologists are anti-Catholic apologists, but all anti-Catholic Protestant apologists are Protestants! Norman Geisler is a Protestant apologist, but not an anti-Catholic. James White is both a Protestant apologist and an anti-Catholic Protestant apologist. He can be called either with equal accuracy. When I was doing Protestant apologetics from 1981 to 1990, I (like Geisler, whom I greatly admire) was not an anti-Catholic variety of apologist. Nor am I an anti-Protestant as a Catholic apologist. I have been ecumenical my entire committed Christian life (since 1980).

It is interesting to note that Moberg does not use the word.

He doesn't? Why didn't you look at the context that I provided for you in the link (that I gave twice)?: Moberg is #11 in my list of Protestant scholars in the paper. I documented his use of anti-Catholic or anti-Catholicism at least ten times in the one book of his that I cited. I noted his words here because he mentioned an "ideological basis" for anti-Catholicism.

Martin Marty (Protestant Church historian): ". . . the editor of the Protestant Home Missionary picked up the cry for the West, where was to be fought a great battle 'between truth and error, between law and anarchy -- between Christianity . . . and the combined forces of Infidelity and Popery.' "

The point, of course, was to again show that the underlying issues were theological: truth vs. error, Christianity vs. the pope and apostasy, etc. These are not intrinsically political issues (as if they cannot exist without political coercion or social unrest).

That's an interesting quote from Dr. Marty, but I have another which actually uses the word we are worrying about here:

Well, again, in my long paper on the topic, I documented 24 uses in two of his books.

The May 17 Sightings ("Catholic Elections") commented on how the Vatican and
American bishops in 1960 assured U.S. citizens that bishops' (fatefully futile)
intrusion in Puerto Rican politics (declaring it sinful for any Catholic to vote for the pro-birth control PPD) would never find a counterpart here. That first intervention under an American flag reflected only the "practical and special condition of the island," they said. It can't happen here. But it did in 2004. Many flip-flopped. Had the old anti-Catholic Protestants been rightfully wary back when they warned about Catholic power in American politics?

Mirror of Justice, 11/1/04
Clearly, there are two premises to Dr. Marty's statement: (1) Protestantism does not equal anti-Catholicism,

No kidding. When will you figure out that I agree with this, always have agreed with it, and always will?! Anyone who knows anything about comparative Christian theology knows this.

and (2) anti-Catholicism does equal political paranoia about Catholic models of authority.

In this instance it did, but it is not always the case, as I have been arguing. You act as if one example of a political usage proves that there can be no purely theological application of anti-Catholic. I already showed in my citation above that he himself allows for this. But of course that isn't sufficient for you, so I have to spend more of my time producing two more examples from Marty:

Anti-Catholicism was the sport of the mob as well as the device of leaders
. . .

. . . enlightened public figures like Benjamin Franklin sounded much like Samuel Adams. Only George Washington was moderate. When officer Benedict Arnold ranted against Catholics, General Washington asked him to show "common prudence and a true Christian spirit." God alone judged the hearts of men, who should not violate each other's consciences. Arnold, he advised, should look with compassion on the errors of Catholism.

(Pilgrims in Their Own Land: 500 Years of Religion in America, New York: Penguin Books, 1984, 142)

[concerning the Federal Council of Churches Commission on Evangelism] Specialists at anti-ecumenism arose. Some opposed doctrinal vagueness while others professed to see in the council a desire for a superchurch. The Southern Baptists, as we have seen, vehemently rejected the unity movement entirely. While council leaders opften sounded and were anti-Catholic and never expected much amity with Catholicism, they were more nettled by evangelistic and evangelical opposition within the Protestant house.

(Modern American Religion, Vol. 1: The Irony of it All: 1893-1919, Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1986, 277)

So when Dr. Marty implies that one periodical in one case demonstrates the equation of Catholicism and anarchy (that is: is demonstrates a political aversion to Catholicism, not merely a theological aversion), he is not at all saying that anti-Catholicism is synonymous with the confessional statements which denounce the Pope.

I agree. But my quotes show that he has a larger definition for the term than merely political and social scuffles.

David Montgomery (Presbyterian pastor): ". . . definition is crucial here. By anti-catholic, I do not mean a rejection of Roman Catholic theological positions. By that definition everyone outside, (and not a few inside), the Roman communion would be deemed anti-catholic! . . . Theological disagreement need not involve suspicion or hostility.

"Some Evangelicals will choose to discuss the issues as they arise in the context of friendship and dialogue, while others will view the Catholic church as the enemy and will see the public renunciation of Roman dogma as an integral part of promoting the evangelical faith. It is this confrontational methodology which I see as the fourth characteristic of anti-Catholicism. Not, let me stress, because doctrine is unimportant, but because such a methodology attributes to Roman Catholicism a status it does not merit . . . "

. . . what on earth is Armstrong using this citation for?! Pastor Montgomery is saying exactly the same thing I am! In what way does this quote even leave prospect for the idea Armstrong has proposed – that it is justified to call any assertion which rejects Catholicism as Christian "anti-Catholic"?

You again show yourself logically challenged. Montgomery is not an anti-Catholic; he is denouncing anti-Catholicism. You are an anti-Catholic. Your logical confusion comes with your invalid equation of:

1. Theological disagreement (on doctrines x, y, z . . .)


2. Denial altogether of the Christian status of those persons or churches with whom one disagrees.

Montgomery does the first (as a good Protestant). He doesn't do the second. He doesn't view the Catholic Church as the "enemy," as he says. He doesn't see anti-Catholicism as part and parcel of the self-definition of evangelicalism. All he's doing is making the point that Protestants and Catholics disagree. And in context, he mentions the kind of doctrines we disagree on: "sub-Biblical and extra-Biblical doctrines such as the Infallibility of the Papacy, Transubstantiation, and the decrees on the Immaculate Conception and Assumption of Mary . . .". But that is not anti-Catholicism, which goes much further than that. One can disagree with a Catholic, as a Protestant, but do so as one fellow Christian to another, just as Protestants do with regard to differing Protestant denominations.

Let's be as clear as possible about something: Montgomery is a person who advocates that the label "Evangelical Catholic" is not an oxymoron – but he does so on the basis that the "Evangelical Catholic" affirms the following 4 doctrines: the supreme authority of Scripture (not co-equal with the Magisterium), missionary activity, the centrality of the cross, and the new birth (not baptismal regeneration). (Montgomery furnishes that distinction here)

Here is what he wrote:

Firstly, to affirm as fellow members those Catholics who are prepared to stand with us on Scripture, the Cross, Conversion and the Great Commission, . . .
Catholics can enthusiastically agree with all this without compromising anything in Catholicism. To equally love and revere and attempt to live by Scripture is what we have in common. We don't have sola Scriptura in common, but neither do all Protestants: Anglicans and Methodists, e.g., place a much higher premium on Christian Tradition than, say, Baptists or independent Protestants do. Many Reformed and Lutherans do the same. If Protestants disagree that much amongst themselves, then surely they can't exclude Catholics from fellowship on the grounds that they supposedly denigrate Scripture.

We also think the cross is central to Christianity and believe in sola gratia, just as all Protestants do. We believe in evangelism. I highly stress biblical evidences in my own apologetics and evangelism. None of that is un-Catholic at all. While Protestants were fighting amongst each other about the Eucharist, and persecuting Anabaptist Protestants to death, Catholics were evangelizing the entire continent of South America (and later, much of North America, too).

Furthermore, you try to make a point about the new birth, but of course, Protestants (as always) disagree on that, also. Montgomery the Presbyterian would not agree with you, as a Baptist (as I believe you are). Nor would he agree with Martin Luther (and all Lutherans), who believe in baptismal regeneration, as did John Wesley. He mentions Wilberforce, who was an Anglican. Different folks define "born again" differently (some Protestants place it at baptism, as Catholics do; others don't). You have infant and adult baptism camps. There are Protestants who don't baptize at all (Salvation Army, Quakers). So these things are defined differently by different Protestants. Again, since they disagree, why not fellowship with Catholics, too, as brothers in Christ? Many things we believe are accepted by some major strand of Protestantism. Lutherans, Church of Christ, Disciples of Christ, and some Methodists and Anglicans believe in baptismal regeneration. Wesley rejected sola fide (as Luther definied it), you have the Arminian-Calvinist divide, etc., etc.

Also important to this discussion, for whatever it is worth, would be the other 3 characteristics Montgomery has listed to form the definition of "anti-Catholic" (from the same link):

Oh? All of a sudden you have discovered the link that, above, you complained about, that I hadn't provided sources?

irrational hatred akin to racism, irrational fear of Catholic political motives, and defamation through invention of urban legends that claim moral disgraces on the part of the Catholic church.
Technically, these were not definitions per se, but rather, as he put it, "four aspects of anti-catholicism which have existed from time to time within Evangelicalism." In other words, again, if one or more of these aspects were absent in a given instance, it doesn't logically follow that anti-Catholicism was not present (precisely as I contend). I prove my point over and over. What does it take? How many proofs do you require? 10,854?

Lastly, before we move on, it is critical to stare into the black hole of the ellipsis Armstrong propped up his citation of Montgomery with. The italic text, below, is what Armstrong bleeped out:

I didn't "bleep out" anything. I cited a short portion of a long citation: the link for which I provided. Nothing in this "black hole" contradicts anything I have argued; it was already explained above. Nice try.

The entire tenor of the affirmation Montgomery makes here is changed by what Armstrong somehow overlooked.

I provided all that in my original paper! So how could I overlook it?

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

I don’t consider Soviet Socialism a historical form of democracy, either, Armstrong, because even though elections are held they are meaningless. Would that make me an anti-Soviet?

No, it would make you "anti-Soviet socialism as supposedly a form of democracy." I didn't define the word anti-Catholicism. I'm simply using it according to how the scholars use it. Your beef is with them, not I, which is what all this is ultimately demonstrating.

Back when Dave Armstrong was still a user in good standing at CARM, he contributed a word to the dialog there that has since become a common word in Catholic apologetic circles: anti-Catholic. I cannot give you a date for this incident because all records of Armstrong’s interaction on CARM were anathemaciously expunged when his posting privileges were taken away. I can tell you that it was prior to May 2004 because it was the conversation around the events that got Armstrong banned at CARM that lead me to buy Hunter’s book.

The word has been common for many decades; long before I came onto the scene. You give Hunter far too much credit (as if he "coined" the term: what utter foolishness!), and also myself, as if I originated this or made it more popular to some extent. My long paper shows that Jewish writer Will Herberg (#4 in my list of scholars) was using the term in 1955 (first edition of his famous work, Protestant Catholic Jew), that Baptist historian Kenneth Scott Latourette (#5) was using it in 1961, etc. James Davison Hunter was born in 1955, the same year Herberg wrote his work, so if he "coined" the term anti-Catholic, that would be quite a feat indeed! Historian Ray Allen Billington (#13) used it in 1938. I cite magazine articles in which the term was used in 1894 and 1915 (#17 and #18). Reinhold Niehbuhr, the well-known Lutheran theologian, used it in his book, Essays in Applied Christianity, in 1959 (p. 221). Roland Bainton, in the most famous biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand (New York: Mentor Books, 1950), uses the term on page 209.

Despite all this historical fact, we get ignorant statements such as the ones by your anti-Catholic crony Ronnie Brown ("Romans 45"), which frustrated me enough for me to do that long research paper (which has been ignored ever since, and the lies and fictions go blithely on, unabated):

There is no standard definition of "anti" in reference to religious denominations. It is a made up term and therefore individuals make up their own definition . . .

Make no mistake about there is no standard definition. Every Catholic that uses it defines it according to their own whims.

I think it is totally meaningless and only used as a prejudicial term . . .

I don’t accept the loaded definition that Catholics use and neither does any dictionary or any other objective reference work. It is only a prejudicial term invented by Catholic apologists.

Every Catholic does use it according to their own whim. If not, point me to an objective standard that defines it as any of them do?

Furthermore, no one has to accept their definition especially since it is only defined by a few apologists who have no real authority even over those in their own camp.

. . . anyone who arbitrarily makes up a prejudicial definition and then claim it is a standard definition.

Anti-Catholics have never been defined by Catholicism and it is used to describe others instead of their beliefs . . . Do yourself a favor. Do a google search on “anti-Catholicism” and see what you come up with.

You show yourself scarcely any more informed than this anti-Catholic polemicist was. And this incomprehension is fairly widespread among your camp.

Now why did I select Hunter’s book? Is it a best-seller? No. I bought it because when I took umbrage at Armstrong’s use of the word, he directed me to Hunter’s work as the basis for his use of the word.

Incorrect. It was merely one source among many, not the sole source. Somehow you got that silly notion in your head.

When I read Hunter’s book [and you have to read the whole thing because a book has one thesis which is developed and expounded over the course of all the chapters. A book is not (usually) like a blog: a book is a coherent thesis; a blog is periodic and (to be charitable) episodic], I was shocked: it appeared to me that Armstrong had misused Hunter’s words and his meaning to suit the purpose of his own arguments. Thus. I wrote the very brief essay you say here at the blog in order to curtail the use of the word.

I've done no such thing, as I've shown again and again.

Now the new readers of the blog are thinking, "cent, how can we trust your version of these events?

Indeed, when you are repeatedly so illogical and oblivious to fact and rational argument and proof, in argument with Catholics. But then, anti-Catholics have always believed exactly what they wanted to believe about Catholics and Catholicism, irregardless of the burdens of logic and factuality.

How do we know you are not, like a pig in an Orwell novel, revising history?" That’s an interesting question. Here is my basis for substantiating this version of the events. Part of the fall-out of Armstrong’s banishment from CARM was the attempts I made to apologize to him was the courtesy I asked of him to simply not mention me, and I would not mention him.

Which I was absolutely delighted to do, until you broke the agreement and continued gossiping and sniping behind my back . . .

Let’s be clear that the reason the events stand out in my mind was that I violated that courtesy – I mentioned Armstrong by implication in the original draft of that essay on Hunter’s book. For the sake of reducing the number of debates we are having here, I’ll confess to being the one who didn’t "keep his word"

Good. But why are we now digressing into purely personal issues? This is an important debate about the meaning of a word, which can be ascertained by recourse to the appropriate scholarship.

who also made the following request to Diane S at CARM in an e-mail dated 5/27/04:

Diane -- you're getting a copy of this message. Please edit my posts from "The proclaimer of this interesting term told me that he got the term from a work entitled ..." to "I have been told that this term originates in a work entitled ...".

I did neither, so this is two separate falsehoods, if you mean to refer to me. Since my long paper was dated 7 October 2002, a full year-and-a-half before your foolish letter, I could hardly have believed such a ludicrous thing. I never have, which is a simple matter of fact. I merely cited him as an evangelical sociologist that you would (hopefully) respect as an authority on the definition and application of the term.

Please edit "There was one somewhat well-known Catholic apologist who routinely tossed that term around here at CARM until he was called on it and lost his temper;

I lose my temper about once every seven years, so this is more nonsense from those who don't know me (or my temperament) from Adam.

there are now at least 4 major Catholic apologists who are using that term to ..." to say "There are at least 4 major Catholic apologists who are using that term to ..."

Please edit "The word entered the dialog here at CARM when a now-gone advocate came here and started slapping it on anyone who wanted to call him on his lousy theological dissertations without pretending that he was an academically-sound source of information..." to "The word entered the dialog at CARM about 2 years ago, and it has now come into common use among Catholics here ..."

Nice history of your irrational animus against me. Quite instructive . . .

and if Mr. Armstrong can find any other offensive references by me to him on CARM, I offer him the opportunity to provide them and I will offer edits to them.

I have posted an apology today for calling Catholics "mindless" -- because Mr. Armstrong is right in that it ultimately is an inflammatory statement. You may circulate this thread of e-mails as you see fit to those who will get a good laugh out of them.

Thank you, Jiminy Cricket, for being such a faithful conscience.

. . . a perfectly irrelevant bunch of information . . . You then offer more non sequitur minutiae, and proceed to cite a private letter of mine to yourself and one of the CARM moderators (an interesting ethical question: now private letters are open season on your blog?).

Let's see: Armstrong was the one who started the use of "anti-Catholic" at CARM about 3 years ago,

I highly doubt that that's the case. In fact, I know it is not, because moderator Diane used to tell me personally that the term was being bandied about before I arrived, c. April 2002, and then was very happy that I came around and clarified its meaning to a very specific thing: not to be used as a club for simply any disagreement at all with Catholics. She was practically ecstatic when I wrote a post explaining this, because it dealt with what had been a big pet peeve of hers, as a moderator. So I didn't start anything; what I did was provide a needed corrective for the definition, since the term was being wrongly applied on a wide scale, by many Catholics (which is still common in many venues).

I found an earlier version of a paper of mine, entitled, "Is ALL Opposition to Catholicism Properly Called Anti-Catholicism?", which included remarks from CARM moderator Diane Sellner, along these lines (made on that board). It is dated 9 May 2002, shortly after I arrived at CARM, Her words will be in brown:


So is it anti-Protestant to claim that the Catholic Church is the only Real McCoy?

Yes, if by that one means that Protestants are not Christians.

If I were to suggest to a RC that in order to know the fullness and truth of Jesus Christ one must leave the Catholic Church, does that make me anti-Catholic?

No, not if you don't deny that the "RC" is Christian if he stays where he is.

Most of us on this forum do not accuse the Catholic Church of teaching what you have stated in the last several lines,


BUT we are called anti-Catholic anyway. Is this the definition I may reference to the Catholics coming to this forum that begin shouting anti-Catholic after a day or so posting on the board?

The definition was only the first paragraph, and nothing beyond it, as I stated clearly. Then I went on to detail attitudes and views which usually but not necessarily accompany the definitional view itself. That is how we can call someone an "anti-Catholic" if they are not emotional or hostile or arrogant at all; it's because it is a doctrinal definition, not a personal or emotional one. It's just that those things almost always accompany the other.

We can disagree with the teachings as long as we don't say you are not Christian?

Yes, then you would not be an anti-Catholic in my eyes, and I would be happy to discuss any issue with you till Kingdom Come. Being a Christian is the bottom line. If you deny that in a Catholic, you are denying their very essence, just as with any other brand of Christian. It is highly insulting, and no one should be surprised that we are fed up with that, and only have so much patience with it.

IF I were to object to Catholic soteriology and make the claim it is not the "Fullness" of apostolic and Biblical Christian teaching, would that make me anti-Catholic?

Only if you denied that we believed in grace alone just as you do, or claimed that we are Pelagians. That puts us outside of biblical Christianity. If you, on the other hand, argue over the definition of justification, or whether a Christian can fall away, or infusion vs. imputation, merit, etc., but acknowledge that our soteriology is simply another Christian version which you disagree with (as, e.g., Arminianism vs. Calvinism amongst Protestants), then that's fine. You need not compromise your own heartfelt beliefs at all. Just don't commit intellectual suicide and claim that Catholicism is not Christian.

Or if I were to refer to the Catholic teachings, let's say, Marian teachings, in my opinion as "Defective", would that mean I was anti-Catholic?

No, not if you refrain from the stupid and ridiculous accusations of idolatry, making her God, etc. C.S. Lewis makes very interesting comments on Mary in his Mere Christianity.

What I am wondering here, is if you see how the Catholic in your definition, is permitted to look down on all other Christian denominations,

Everyone thinks their view is the best one, or they wouldn't hold to it, right? That's not necessarily "looking down." It is simply engaging in honest disagreement with respect, and rejoicing where there is common ground, and defending one's own view. The real "looking down" comes by denying the other a Christian status altogether. It would be like insisting that I am not an American, or a political conservative, or a pro-lifer, or a nature-lover, or a lover of children, when I am all these things. The anti-Catholic comes around and arrogantly refuses to grant the Catholic their essential identity as a Christian: that which means every bit as much to them as it does to any Protestant. It is an extreme insult, and especially so because it is so utterly ignorant and arrogant (i.e., if thought-through properly in its implications), given Church history. Merely disagreeing with a doctrine here and one over there does not involve this sort of absurdity and condescension and basic insult.

make the claim she is infallible,

So what? Luther and Calvin claimed far more de facto infallibility for themselves than any pope ever has (and on no legitimate grounds; they simply claimed it). In fact, every individual Protestant who claims that he can interpret every Christian doctrine by himself (and the Holy Spirit and the Bible, of course), is claiming more Christian authority than any pope ever has.

those outside of her are not knowing the "Fullness" of Christ and are "Defective" and that is not anti-Protestant?

No, because we all tend to think that way of others not in our group. We think they have some error, or else we wouldn't be in the group we are in! This is perfectly obvious, and a fact of life. But it doesn't have to be arrogant or "anti-" in the sense I have been describing.

However if we make the same claim concerning Catholic teachings we are anti-Catholic.

What is claimed by the anti-Catholic goes far beyond this. It is asserted that we are idolaters, Pelagians, pagans, blasphemers, members of antichrist, followers of the devil, etc. That goes far beyond saying we could know Christ better or more fully somewhere else.

Ok, well then if we fight against individual Catholic doctrines that we think are false, it does not mean we are anti-Catholic? Did I get this or no?

As long as you don't cross the lines I have mentioned. You can fight us on Mariology, as long as you don't claim that we worship her as some sort of goddess or that she usurps Christ's prerogatives, which are out-and-out lies. You can fight the papacy, or purgatory, or communion of saints, or baptismal regeneration, or the Real Presence; whatever you like, if the same lines are observed. I've had perfectly amiable discussions with folks on all these topics.


Armstrong cited Hunter's work as the source of his use of that term, but Hunter's usage has no bearing on Armstrong's usage? Let the reader decide.

No (not in the sense you make out), because I never said that he was the sole source!! You can't build a charge upon a patent falsehood. You can't prove that I ever stated such a thing. It's absurd and downright ridiculous. Hunter is merely one source among 55 that backs up my claim. Remember, I was originally replying to Ronnie Brown, whose remarks I have reproduced above. He was saying that Catholic apologists invented the term and that it was completely arbitrary; a wax nose to bend at one's whim and fancy. So he went far beyond your own charges. You merely limit the definition to the political.

[passing over editorial nitpicking about how I respond, and about how Hunter made his argument (which I've already replied to) . . .]

. . . . And let's keep something in mind: this revision of his position

What revision?! I've believed the exact same thing on this point for about 22 years now, both as a Protestant and as a Catholic.

is Armstrong's new way of justifying using this term in spite of its disrepute.

What disrepute?! It's a perfectly legitimate, respectable term in secular and Protestant academia, and has been for over 100 years. It is only anti-Catholics themselves who object so strenuously to it (while nevertheless using their own "anti" terms).

He won't consider this, but you, the reader, should: if I use the term "anti-semitic" to describe someone who does not agree with American foreign policy toward Israel, am I invoking a morally-charged term to denigrate without argument,

Yes; you are making a completely inappropriate and illogical leap: equating someone's view on a particular foreign policy, with ethnic hatred, which does not follow logically at all. But anti-Catholic simply means "denial that Catholicism is Christian," which you and all anti-Catholics (pretty much) freely admit. It's a simple, straightforward factual mater. I don't see why it is offensive at all. I never have. But that is thinking logically, . . .

or am I simply saying, "They are opposed to support of the Jewish state in the same way they might be opposed to the support of the Cuban state on ideological grounds; they are not racists or bigots"?

If you meant that, use of anti-Semitic (whch is a form of prejudice - unfortunately widespread) would not be a wise choice of words.

There may be a third choice, but again: induceat lector – let the reader decide.

I have provided plenty of enough backing for my definition. You've provided absolutely nothing so far to overcome my evidences.

The problem, of course, is that on pp. 35-36 of his book, Hunter (a sociologist) refuses to call the events that caused the political outcomes by this name [anti-Protestantism]. Hunter! Armstrong's source!

I never said that he would or should do so. You misinterpret my argument again. Please go read it again.

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.

Yes – but it was the source Armstrong cited – and in every other source where the term is used, it denotes a political agenda to obstruct the advance of Catholicism through fear-mongering and myth-making.

This is untrue, as I have shown again and again.

He cannot find a source which uses this word to mean merely "Protestant" or even "argumentative Protestant".

Why would I want to? I don't believe that nonsense, so why would I set out to prove what I don't accept? If the target is a straw man from the get-go, then discussion itself becomes futile, as presently. You repeatedly accuse me of holding positions I don't hold. No amount of correction or contrary documentation suffices to disabuse you of your falsehoods and misinformation.

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?

If this statement by Armstrong requires some kind of exegesis, someone please e-mail me. I said "coins or simply applies" – but, since Armstrong can apply an ellipsis anywhere he wants to make any text say whatever he requires, there's not reason to try to correct him here.

That's right: when you make an astoundingly ignorant remark like this, and then deign to lecture someone on the same subject, it is maddening, to say the least. Since my paper (which preceded our "tempest in a teapot" controversy) has shown use of the term as far back as 1894, it is beyond ridiculous for you to say that (even if you qualify it) Hunter (born in 1955) may have "coined" the term, since to "coin a term" means "to invent a new term or expression." When you are so out to sea as to the basics of the subject matter, it's a bit much to take to have to endure your condescension towards my views that you continually express.

It is again interesting to note that Armstrong grabs the citation from pg 71 but ignores the citation which defines Hunter's use of the word from pp. 35-36. I am sure it was an honest mistake.

You know what? I will try to contact Dr. Hunter, as well as other sociologists and historians and ask them if it is permissible to use anti-Catholic in a merely theological sense. What will you do if they agree with me? Will that stop this nonsense once and for all, if we get it right from the Protestant scholars themselves?

It's funny, but you cannot find someone using "anti-evangelical" or "anti-Calvinist" who ever means it to say, "Catholics who are seeking to repress the civil rights of Protestants".

It's not funny; it is perfectly expected, and exactly what I have stated. They use it in a theological sense, precisely as I do. So you are fighting straw men, and have missed the point of the objection.

And a quick Google of finds that the only person Dr. White has ever called "anti-Protestant" is … Dr. Art Sippo, the Jack Chick of Catholic apologetics!

You don't have to do a search; I already provided all the evidence you need to see in my papers on the subject. You want to dismiss White's use of all "anti" terms, because he used "anti-Protestant" only against one man, whom you then proceed to attack, ad hominem? That's no argument; my point stands, whether he is applying it to Vlad the Impaler or Attila the Hun: the recipient is irrelevant. Here are the facts about White's use of logically-equivalent and parallel terms to anti-Catholicism, from my paper, James White's Use of "Anti" Terms & More "Tired" Rhetoric and Anti-Catholic Terminological and Ethical Double Standards:

1. Dave Hunt's The Berean Call is described as "in the service of anti-Calvinism" (12-19-04)

2. A sermon of Pastor Danny O'Guinn of the Tower Grove Baptist Church in St. Louis, Missouri is called "The Worst of Anti-Calvinism." (3-13-05; again on 3-29-05)

3. "David Cloud's Anti-Calvinism Campaign." (1-26-05)

4. Dave Hunt: "anti-Calvinist rhetoric" and "anti-Calvin rhetoric." (5-16-02)

5. "There seems to be a strong element of anti-Reformed or anti-Calvinistic feeling among adherents to the KJV Only position, and Mrs. Riplinger is no exception to the rule." (New Age Bible Versions Refuted)

6. "Lutheran scholar R.C.H. Lenski wrote a series of New Testament commentaries that are still in circulation today. His strongly anti-Reformed stance comes through clearly in his writings. . . . I was a little taken aback by the anti-Reformed polemic inherent in Lenski’s commentary. I am aware that many Lutherans continue to harbor that kind of anti-Calvinism (I suppose some Calvinists harbor anti-Lutheran feelings in turn, though I haven’t encountered it myself), . . . " (Link)

7. "In light of this, it is somewhat understandable how one who graduated from Westminster Seminary could still use such phrases as “God forces men to believe” and the like, caricatures which, while common in anti-Reformed polemics, have likewise been refuted so many times it is amazing." (against Catholic Bob Sungenis, but a general statement, too)

I even found a brand-new example: the views of Dr. Paul Owen, a Presbyterian, is referred to as "a lengthy selection of his anti-Baptist statements, . . ." (9-16-05)

So if you want to stick up for Dr. Sippo's black-tongued abuse of anyone who questions him or his beliefs, you are welcome to do so. Just do it someplace else.

I haven't said one word about Art Sippo. You have only brought him up in a cynical attempt to avoid the point at hand: the glaring double standard in use of "anti" terms. Furthermore, we have Eric Svendsen's and other anti-Catholics' hypocrisies, as documented in my two papers:

Eric Svendsen's & Other Anti-Catholics' Inconsistent Use of Anti-Evangelical as a Description of Catholics

More Examples of Eric Svendsen's Hypocritical Double Standards for "Anti" Language

Let me summarize, if I may, for our readers:

Eric Svendsen

1. The rules for his NTRMin Areopagus board:
"Forum Rules--please read BEFORE posting for the first time"3/6/03 10:08 am:

". . . the board offers a forum for asking about, and/or answering anti-Christian (read, anti-Evangelical) arguments posed by other religious groups, or even non-religious groups. It is not a forum for non-Evangelicals to air various antagonistic anti-Evangelical agendas . . . Thou shalt not post links to Roman Catholic apologetic sites, or any other site that has an anti-evangelical agenda." [Thus, Christians are equated with Evangelicals, and Catholics and undisclosed others have an "anti-evangelical agenda."]

2. ". . . known anti-Evangelical antagonists like Dave Armstrong . . ." (4-1-04)

3. ". . . one of the most vitriolic anti-evangelical Roman Catholic epologists that exist" [referring, in context, to John Pacheco]. (4-2-04)

4. "This is pure sophist nonsense; it reveals an anti-biblical mindset, and it reveals how little men like TGE [Reformed blogmaster Tim Enloe] understand about Scripture, or indeed Gnosticism." (12-16-04)

5. ". . . the words of anti-evangelical [Catholic] antagonist Jonathan Prejean . . ." (And They Were Offended, 3-11-05)

6. ". . . the usual anti-evangelical forums . . ." (On Evangelical Comments Concerning the Death of the Pope: An Apology, 4-8-05)

7. "Recently, I’ve been having an exchange with Tim Enloe at Jonathan Prejean’s blog, discussing his usual anti-baptist rantings. . . . During the course of that discussion, I reminded Tim of his anti-baptist history . . . . . . his usual Baptist-hate-fest rhetoric, . . ." (The Sectarian Gnosticism of "Reformed" Catholicism Dot Com, 4-14-05)

8. "Rugged Individualism and Anti-Baptist Sacramentalists" (Title of post from 6-14-05)

9. " . . . the anti-baptist hyper-sacramentalist . . ." (The Hyper-Sacramentalist and Baptism in Acts 2:38, 6-20-05)

John F. MacArthur, Jr.

The pastor of Grace Community Church and host of the radio ministry, Grace to You, writing in a review of a book by Eric Svendsen:

"Eric Svendsen's Evangelical Answers . . . is a perceptive, intelligent, and solidly biblical reply to the recent barrage of Roman Catholic anti-evangelical propaganda."

Philip Schaff

[Reputable 19th-century Church historian]

"Mediaeval Catholicism is pre-evangelical, looking to the Reformation; modern Romanism is anti-evangelical, condemning the Reformation, . . ."

(The History of the Christian Church, Volume VII: HISTORY OF MODERN CHRISTIANITY THE REFORMATION. FROM A.D. 1517 TO 1648. CHAPTER I. ORIENTATION. § 2. "Protestantism and Romanism")

Charles Spurgeon

[Famous 19th-century Calvinist preacher]

"We have nowadays around us a class of men who preach Christ, and even preach the gospel; but then they preach a great deal else which is not true, and thus they destroy the good of all that they deliver, and lure men to error. They would be styled 'evangelical' and yet be of the school which is really anti-evangelical."

("Gems From Spurgeon," compiled by James Alexander Stewart)

Richard M. Bennett

[Prominent anti-Catholic]

"If this anti-Evangelical trend continues unchecked it will become ruinous to the spiritual welfare of millions of souls. . . . Neuhaus’ anti-Scriptural words . . . J. I. Packer like a modern Pied Piper is leading many thousands of Evangelicals astray. Charles Colson, Bill Bright, Mark Noll, Pat Robertson, Os Guinness, Timothy George, and T.M. Moore to mention just a few of the more prominent New Evangelicals have publicly denied the Gospel in endorsing the anti-biblical terms and erroneous doctrinal concepts of the Church of Rome."

("The Alignment of New Evangelicals With Apostasy")

Steve Hays

". . . even though early Hughes was apparently a Calvinist, late Hughes was a militant anti-Calvinist." (7-29-05)

But of course, you have 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 unsavory when they merely do the same thing.

Poor Armstrong! Such an abused person! I weep for him!

Nice try. Another asinine attempt to completely sidestep a highly-important issue . . .

Is it obvious that Hunter would not say that anti-Protestant bias fueled political violence against Protestants in southern Europe?

Yes. What's that got to do with anything, pray tell?

It is clear that in his presentation of the European events which fueled New-World prejudices, the Catholics were not any better in their treatment of Protestants. You simply skipped that part of my citation of Hunter,

That's neither under dispute, nor relevant to the terminological discussion at hand. I was simply condemning anti-Protestantism in a passing comment.

but again: the ellipsis is mightier than the fact.

Note the as-yet-unsubstantiated insinuation of my deliberate dishonesty in my citation methodology.

Protestant theology (as opposed to Evangelical theology, which is a distinction Montgomery makes if you have actually read his article that you cited) rejects the errors of Catholicism as wholly-incompatible with the Bible. If you never made that confession – and that's the confession you call "anti-Catholic" – then don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. You weren't much of a Protestant even by Montgomery's definition.

I thought, as a Protestant, that all perceived errors of Catholicism were of a nature that they were grossly unbiblical, just as I now think various Protestant errors are unbiblical. We all do that.

I want to dialog with Armstrong? Let's check my blog, shall we? It seems that Armstrong's original complaint was that I am intransigent and refuse to dialog with him out of raw hatred. Since when do I want to dialog with Armstrong?

You tried over and over at CARM when I had become completely fed up with your methodology in discussion; you tried repeatedly again on my own blog, subsequent to your apology for all the numerous insults made towards me, even setting up a separate discussion board for us to "dialogue" and mentioning it in mosquito-like fashion so often on my blog that several readers became at least as annoyed as I was. Perhaps you have changed since then. I'll take your word on that. I hope so, because this discussion (till it is over) is our last time, I guarantee it. This discussion is a prime example of a vain and futile conversation. The only value it has is to show the utter bankruptcy of this particular "argument" of yours.

Anyone reading the comments in his blog ought to see plainly that I am ignoring him there to converse with the far-more-reasonable contributors to his meta.

That's fine with me. Please continue to do so.

I want to dialog with Armstrong about as much as I want to camp on the beach in Galveston tonight. Can I say it any more clearly?

Good. Let's make this our farewell effort, then.

If it was not clear when I started this blog entry, let me make it crystal clear right now that the only reason for this blog entry is to underscore the continued flawed methodology of Dave Armstrong for the sake of warning others against dealing with him.

And in that task you have failed abysmally, since (I humbly submit) you have proven not a single one of your points.

May our Glorious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ bless you and yours abundantly, give you peace and joy, protect and preserve you from the world, the flesh, and the devil, and guide you into all truth.

Open Letter to 46 Christian Sociologists and/or Sociologists of Religion and Four Church Historians

See related websites:

Association of Christians Teaching Sociology

Religion and the Social Sciences

American Sociological Association - Section on Religion

Articles by Sociologists of Religion

Peter Berger, Boston Univ.
James Davison Hunter, Univ. of Va.
Robert Wuthnow, Princeton Univ.
David Lyon, Queens Univ.
William H. Swatos, Jr., editor of the online Encyclopedia of Religion and Society and executive officer for the Association for the Sociology of Religion
Richard H. Bliese, Professor of Missions, Luther Seminary
Wade Clark Roof, Prof. of Religion and Society at Univ. of Ca, Santa Barbara
David A. Roozen, Director of Hartford Inst. for Religion Research
Christopher Ellison, Univ. of Texas - Austin
Mark Chaves, Univ. of Arizona
Roger Finke, Pennsylvania State Univ.
Richard L. Wood, Univ. of New Mexico
John B. Bartkowski, Mississippi State Univ.
Sally K. Gallagher, Oregon State Univ.
Mark D. Regnerus, Univ. of Texas - Austin
David Yamane, Wake Forest Univ.
Melissa J. Wilde, Indiana Univ.
David A. Smilde, Univ. of Ga.
Kevin Dougherty, Baylor Univ.
Kevin J. Christiano, Notre Dame
Wendy Cadge, Harvard and Bowdoin College
Rhys Williams, Univ. of Cincinnati
Stephen Warner, Univ. of Illinois - Chicago
Lisa Pearce, Univ. of NC - Chapel Hill
Darren Sherkat, Southern Illinois Univ.
Cheryl T. Gilkes, Colby College
Kraig Beyerlein, Univ. of NC - Chapel Hill
Michael O. Emerson, Notre Dame
Jerry Park, Baylor Univ.
Brian Steensland, Indiana Univ.
Rob Robinson, Indiana Univ.
Ronald L. Akers, Univ. of Fla.
Thomas C. Hood, Univ. of Tennessee
Daniel Johnson, Gordon College
George Yancey, Univ. of North Texas
Lisa McMinn, Wheaton College
Brad Breems, Trinity Christian College
Scott Monsma, Northwestern College
Russell Heddendorf, Covenant College
Robert J. Graham, Lee Univ.
Cynthia Tweedell, Indiana Wesleyan Univ.
Jim Mathisen, Wheaton College
Charles M. Brown, Albright College
Michelle R. Loyd-Paige, Calvin College
Mark J. Rozell, George Mason Univ.
Michael Welch, Univ. of NC - Chapel Hill

George M. Marsden, Prof. of History, Notre Dame
Martin Marty, Prof. of History, Univ. of Chicago
Mark Noll, Professor of History, Wheaton College
David Bebbington, Prof. of History, Univ. of Stirling



I hope you are well today. I'm writing this form letter to several sociologists of religion and/or Christian sociologists (and a few Church historians) in order to find an answer to a vexing, seemingly controversial question of definition (the word anti-Catholic). If I could request just two to three minutes of your time, for your professional assistance, I would greatly appreciate it.
I am a Catholic author (A Biblical Defense of Catholicism, The Catholic Verses) and professional apologist (link to blog), who has been an avid observer of religious interaction and comparative theology and history of Christian doctrine, among many other things, for some 25 years now (and I've written dozens of online articles on these subjects and related ones). I'm also, by the way, a sociology major myself (BA, Wayne State Univ., Detroit, 1982). Though I defend Catholic theology, I seek to be (for the record) very ecumenical and open-minded towards my Protestant and Orthodox brethren in Christ, and detest all forms of anti-Protestantism and anti-Orthodoxy, as it were.

I have consistently maintained for years that the term anti-Catholic, while it obviously has a long history of association with political coercion and social unrest (Know-Nothings, Nativism, discrimination against Irish and southern European immigrants, the "troubles" in Northern Ireland, English disenfranchisement, the KKK, etc.), also can be properly used in a purely religious, doctrinal, or theological sense, without a necessary or intrinsic connection or reference to the other aspects. In that sense, I define it briefly (very broadly) in sociological / doctrinal terms as "a denial that the Catholic Church is a Christian institution." Is this a permissible usage or not?

A simple "yes" or "no" answer to the preceding question / paragraph would suffice, or if you want to also add any further explanatory or clarifying remarks, or direct me to relevant reference sources, that would be wonderful and most helpful, too. I would also like to ask your permission to publicly post your comments as part of a paper dealing with this controversy, on my blog, so that the results of my survey can be publicly known and documented. I would love to see this frustrating controversy be resolved once and for all.

Thank you very much for your kind assistance, God bless you, and have a great day,

Dave Armstrong

[mailed on 9-24-05; all replies (provided permission is granted) will be posted in full]


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