Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bishop White is Buying and "Critiquing" My Books Again!

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You'd think two Scots (that's my Armstrong Ancient Tartan) would be able to engage in a normal, back-and-forth discussion, wouldn't you? But we all know how stubborn Scots can be.

For a person who is on record again and again saying that my work is absolutely worthless and not worth anyone's time for even a minute, and that I am an ignoramus in theological matters, it is odd that James White has purchased my latest book, The One-Minute Apologist, and wishes to now "critique" it on his blog.

He did the same with The Catholic Verses in 2005, but it didn't take long for him to descend into almost purely personal attack, which caused me to abruptly cease "interaction" on that subject in disgust, in turn leading to utterly predictable charges that I was a coward and a (hilariously funny yet tragic) "feeding frenzy" of insult and calumny for about a month on several leading anti-Catholic blogs.

I've never purchased any of White's books at full price, nor will I (of course I buy almost all used books in the first place). I did, however, manage to find his Roman Catholic Controversy at a used book sale for a quarter or 50 cents. Even then I hesitated, but at length decided that I could part with that sum to see what one of the most influential anti-Catholics had to say in his magnum opus.

Be that as it may, the good bishop wants to review a book by someone he regards as a dishonest charlatan, that everyone supposedly thinks is a joke (though, strangely enough, I receive letters all the time telling me that my writing was a factor in the writer's conversion to the Catholic Church; this very day I received one such letter from a former anti-Catholic).

My instinct upon reading the piece was to respond to it and refute his arguments (per my standard modus operandi with any critique sent my way). But then I got to thinking, "why should I waste my time composing a detailed reply, when I have done so 15, 20 or more times in the past, only to have White utterly ignore my reply?" One tires of this. I'm interested in intelligent dialogue and discourse, not mud pie fights with slanderers or mutual monologues.

And so I hereby issue a public challenge to Mr. White: are you willing to have a conversation this time, or will it be the same old, same old: you write something, I refute it, then you ignore and run or merely mock? If you will publicly promise on your blog to engage in a normal conversation as polite adults do, and (particularly) as self-respecting, intellectually confident thinkers do, and actually make it to the second round of a discussion without resorting to ad hominem attack, for the first time in twelve years, then I will be glad to respond point-by-point to your critique.

But if not, then I won't spend any more time on it beyond documenting your potshots, which I shall do presently:

Armstrong is not an original thinker, he just collates what others say and repeats their arguments, normally in very inflated forms.

. . . someone like Armstrong, whose most effective weapon is verbal flooding. He is well known for doing text-based core dumps, filled with links to his own writings.

. . . if you might be better off working in another field, attempting this kind of project will illustrate that, too.

Many of Armstrong's suggested objections and answers are either aimed at the most dismally ignorant of those who oppose Rome's claims (a common element of much of the literature produced by the wide spectrum of their apologists) or against people I honestly have never met or heard of. So a number of the sections really are not relevant to a serious non-Catholic reader. It is hard to decide which are which, because of some of the tremendously obvious errors Armstrong makes.

So, is Armstrong just ignorant of Protestant ecclesiology, or, has he run into some tiny sect someplace that has come up with some new wacky viewpoint? Given that he was once non-Catholic, it is hard to believe he could be so ignorant . . .

. . . he does not show any knowledge of the biblical arguments in his presentation in this book . . .

But in the majority of presentations, Rome's position is assumed, not actually demonstrated. The circularity of Armstrong's writings is plain for all to see. He falls into the category of apologists who believe that arguing for the possibility of Rome's position is sufficient to establish her ultimate authority claims. But that kind of argumentation is only effective for those who already want to believe and are simply looking for a reason to continue to do so. It surely has no impact upon the one who continues to demand some kind of substantive response.

The One Minute Apologist illustrates the same problem I have documented in the majority of the rest of Rome's apologists: they do not have any desire to interact with the strongest criticisms of their position, but, for some reason, are more than content to repeat the same worn out arguments that have been offered, and refuted, over and over again in the past.

[man, is that projection or what!!? I thought I was reading White's curriculum vitae: methodology section for a second there . . . ]

And if Armstrong wishes to be taken seriously as an apologist [this is the latest fashionable playbook / "talking points" tactic of anti-Catholics towards me (e.g., John Q. Doe and Frank Turk): I'm not taken "seriously" anymore by anyone], why does he not write in such a way as to indicate a growing, deepening knowledge of the critics of the position he espouses?

. . . Armstrong shows how little he knows of the theology of those he critiques . . .

One truly has to wonder at Armstrong's ability to claim to have read meaningful Protestant works of theology and yet remain so functionally illiterate in the subject.

. . . I will try to find enough substantive material to make it worth the while of my readers to address.

I don't need to feel all that bad, though. After all, even former presidents of the Evangelical Theological Society are painted as idiots and dolts (regarding Protestant theology) by White. To the contrary, I am amused and entertained by the fact that White has said so many times that I should be ignored by everyone, including himself, because I am so stupid and deceitful, yet here he is again critiquing the worthless book of an imbecilic fool that no one (so he sez) takes seriously.

Could it be that this means I am possibly, just maybe, having a wee bit of an impact on some of the folks from his remote corner of the Christian world? Naw, couldn't possibly be . . .

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